Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Year of Lawlessness

As we head towards the closing hours of the first decade of the 21st century I was asked this question:

How has 2009 fare to you?

My answer: I am grateful that I had been well fenced in and insulated from the economic crisis that had affected the livelihood and possibly the future security of thousands, if not millions, of middle income wage earners and their families. But 2009 shall be etched in my memory as the Year of Lawlessness for my country. Some even compared it to Zimbabwe. I agree wholeheartedly. In the opening paragraph of this Malaysiakini article,

"Without mincing his words, political analyst Abdul Aziz Bari likened those who hold the reins of power in Malaysia to a bunch of 'thugs'. According to him, these individuals do as they please without proper regard for the law of the land and the percepts laid down in the federal constitution."We are like Zimbabwe, just with another name!" stressed the law expert."

Please read this reflection for justification of why 2009 is deemed by the author the Decade of Shame for Malaysia. And this article for the Disappointment of the Decade.

Have we sunk low enough to begin to recover? I am hoping that as we start the new decade in less than 48 hours we will have a good explanation for our kids who decide to stay put in this blessed land that millions decide to call home.

Fighting Gravity

From the day we are born we have been trying to outdo gravity. We were helpless babes lying in cribs, then we learn to roll over and crawl before we hold ourselves upright and then learn to take our first steps. From that point on it there was no stopping us in learning to walk, run and fly. Curiosity takes us skyward to enquire what lie beyond the stars. Soon we invented rockets and built space shuttles to take us to the moon. We have cut the umbilical cord that tied us back to earth. Soaring beyond the stratosphere gives us victory over gravity, makes us proud and even arrogant as to what we can accomplish. Soon man would want to travel even further, even to Mars or another hospitable planet that we can migrate to should Earth becomes uninhabitable because we have polluted it so and destroyed its climate.

But man was never created to fly, or to leave Earth. Any efforts to change the law of creation will fail. It is unnatural for us to get out of earth's gravity because it was designed to protect us and for our comfort. Without gravity there would be no atmosphere and nothing can survive on its surface. Gravity gives earthlings stability and accurate geographical points of reference. And gravity gives us assurance that things will stay where they are. Imagine a world where people, and things, float freely. There would be chaos and disorder.

So gravity is indeed our invisible friend, a cord to tie us to our base, our home. Just as love tie us to the hearts we love. Our wilderness and tendency to roam will be our undoing one day. Why look beyond this part of the universe that we ought to have protected and preserve? Why destroy it and then look for an alternative spot in the universe that may never exist? And at what cost will it take to move the human race out of earth? We have not reached a point of over-population that make earth over-crowded. It is the selfishness and wastefulness that accelerated the destruction of Earth.

As easy as it is for man to become upright to conquer the laws of nature and be master over them, age and health will soon take all of us down to a horizontal position again when we lie in bed to die, and eventually buried.

From dust we are made, to dust we shall return. Gravity keeps us sane and earthbound. Our cravings to be gods are attempts to break out from the confines of the comfort zone we are in. Unless we realise that there are limits to what we can do we will soon find that much of our efforts are in vain. Because gravity will win, eventually.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wrong Way to Love

I watched an interview on television a few days ago. The guest, a renown Taiwanese public speaker, was sharing his thoughts on how we Asians, Chinese in particular, tend to spoil our kids by lavishing them with the best we can think of, believing that we are helping them grow to be better human beings. We refused to let them do housework, instead we employ maids to serve and work. In the process we create little devils who don't understand what is responsibility and who cannot understand hardship and the value of work. They grow up expecting to be served and treated royally. They will not be able to face trials since they are shielded from the real world.

Perhaps we think pampering is same as loving. Like greenhouse plants our children who are not allowed to experience danger, injuries, sadness, hunger, fear and hard work will grow up weak and spineless. Like domesticated animals released into the wild they cannot survive because the law of the jungle require them to fight for their lives. I do not suggest that parents must put their kids to the grind but they must not protect them excessively or deny them their inquisitiveness to explore, learn and experience. Be available to guide and protect but let them test life on their own.

The speaker said that many children don't know how to love because they were not given the opportunity to love. For example, we deem it inconvenient for them to pay their filial respect by visiting so we discourage them. We are preventing them from expressing their love visually. Making our children used to only receiving love and care is a dangerous move. They become accustom only to receiving and not giving. It is little wonder that youth culture today is seldom based on good mannerism, charity, respect and sharing. When we truly love our children we must discipline them (not abuse them, there is a difference) to understand what and why certain behavior is not acceptable or morally incorrect. Kids today are smart and they will listen if you earn their respect so adults must not be bullish nor over-bearing. Every act of disciplining must be followed with explaining the reason. It take intelligent and sensitive parenting skills to bring up children into fine youth and adults.

When I see my grandchildren volunteering to help with chores, like sweeping and throwing the garbage, I let them. To them such work are fun, to me they are opportunities to foster family life and sharing workload. Later as they grow older I will explain the importance of sharing housework. Unknowingly this little education will bloom into the acceptance of teamwork in school, workplace and community later in life.

Let us not snuff the desire of our kids to do work, even if they don't understand it as work. But turn the event into a fun activity to teach the value of social responsibility. I think if more parents bring up their children by teaching responsibility early in life, society as a whole will be more cohesive and harmonious.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Reflecting ...

Inevitably at each year end I would think about the fading year as well as what I should be doing when January breaks in. Much like spring cleaning that my grandma religiously carried out when she was alive and strong and I would helped her holding the broom on long handles (joined and tied with raffia strings) I too want to clean up periodically and reorganize my affairs. I hate clutters and it would worry me to have a cluttered life when I am too old to unclutter them, so I try to keep things neat and up to date wherever possible. Some of them I am working on and reflecting on changes that will affect me in 2010:

1. New website layout for the society I am managing. I like new look to go with the new year. Hopefully by 1st week of the new year I will be able to ready all the new webpages to upload them to PBSNS Website.

2. Thinking ahead how the expanded work in the abovementioned society will mean setting up proper structures to look after the different needs I want to set up several sub-committees and taskforces. I wonder if my plans will be enthusiastically supported.

3. My 4th grandkid will make his grand appearance in a few weeks. I am excited, so are his parents and grandma. We are telling 'big sister' Ling to anticipate 'baby brother' arrival. We already have a name for him but it will be announced only after his birth. Wait for it. There will be changes in routine and I want to be as helpful as possible. Later next year Ling may enrol in playschool if she gets bored without friends to play with and I will be her chauffeur. The 2 of us get along just fine.

4. My lower back is not getting better, but is stabilising. It slows me a bit but is not problematic. The degeneration is progressing downward from the cervical area since 2002 and has now arrived at the lumbar zone and should stop there. I tried a massage treatment 2+ years ago that ended disastrously but thankfully the pain healed. I have been advised to NOT stress my back. The new year will see me no more physically active than I am now. My dog still need to be bathed and I am the only one who can handle the bitch. Doing that once every 10-14 days is doable but carrying and bouncing my grandchild later will be more restrictive.

5. Healthwise I am as good as I can be but I need to be more selective on food intake. Thank God I can take almost everything and is not allergic to anything. I just have to eat less portions to manage my bulging mid-section. I may force on some exercises to keep fit but generally my lifestyle is going to stay sedentary.

6. Retiring will be gradual. If circumstances allow I wish to retire completely from all work so I can spend more time with my family and taking short holidays as much as I can manage.

Friday, December 25, 2009

High Income Society - Danger Ahead

Christmas is here. At the risk of being repetitious let me greet my readers Blessed Christmas. Blessings will never go out of fashion nor will they be rejected because they are good.

This morning I want to reflect on the danger of High Income Society, a term that has gained broad usage since prime minister Najib Tun Razak used it at his October 2009 budget speech in which he said he wants Malaysia to become a HIS. Nothing wrong with that wish except if we delve deeper into its impact we may not really want to be too wealthy after all.

Wealth by itself shielded from external influence is neutral. Great wealth must always come with great effort. Easy wealth has no lasting effect and its owners seldom appreciate its value. Upon this broad observation I think it is foolhardy to wish that we will increase our per capita income as we edge towards a developed status. In a word: unpreparedness.

We are not prepared to enjoy high income because we do not have skilled manpower to equate to the right to higher income. We have frightened the really good ones away. By artificially forcing our workforce to earn more to ride out the inflations we have been badly bruised in the last 2 years we are effectively killing their livelihood. If they earn more they, or their employers have to charge more for the goods or services. Domestically this means possibilities of losing customers. Or if they want to earn more they cheat on quality and quantity, either way they will also lose customers. For those in export businesses, goods will be more expensive and less competitive. So a high income workforce hold their employers to higher risk of downsizing or closing down. A high income society cannot tolerate retrenchments, it is an imagination spun to make its citizenry feel good. We rather be safe than sorry.

Malaysians must never forget that no fruitful gains come will no efforts. Like a tree that grow to great height, we must have patience and diligence to grow to our stature. If we all work hard enough, and are willing to learn from our mistakes and humble to learn from others who are successful, high income will come our way, eventually. But mere rhetorics will not produce a society that can hold on to its wealth if we do not respect it or know how to invest in it wisely.

May we know the difference between high income society and real income society.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Year That Was (Almost)

With still a week left we alreadfy have THIS report summarising the major events of the nation. Should the writer not wait a little longer, say till the first few days of 2010? At the rate sensational news are reported almost weekly, it will not surprise me if something big will happen between Christmas and New Year. Unless it is a tsunami or volcanic eruption that hurt us I guess it will not be worth reporting.

With Christmas 2 hours away I blog this to say 2009 has been a good year overall despite the recession, the political crisis of Perak my home state, the disappointment of the new BN cabinet under Najib Tun Razak and the MCA crisis. We learn to cocoon ourselves away and stay in our orbit and learn to be as unaffected as possible. Life goes on and where we can do our bit to influence society and politics we do so when the opportunity comes.

Peace and goodwill. I wish these to everyone, Malaysian and others. May 2010 be a year of recovery not just of economy but also sanity and civility between each other.

My family has a pre-Christmas reunion dinner awhile ago. It was nice and simple. The kids enjoyed the food and later fun at a nearby playground. A great way to say 'Thank God' for a good year.

Christmas is for the World

Christmas has been spun into the secular world as a celebration of thanksgiving, gifts giving and pampering oneself. The real message of Christmas is lost and to some Christians it has become insignificant. It take the churches to remind the public through dramas and special sermons and the press to write on what Christmas is all about. The birth of Jesus Christ is not ordinary and was to reveal God's loving plan for His creation. It take faith to accept this understanding. It is not a mistake that Christmas turns out this way, with Santa Claus and Xmas trees taking prominence over Jesus. The celebration of Christmas by even non-Christians open possibilities for the message of God's salvation to penetrate their hearts. God alone know what to do with such opportunities.

Many people don't want to believe in the Christmas story because it engage them to think, to consider and even to believe. Coming to the point of belief requires a commitment to be a responsible follower of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately many Christians don't, and even some non-Christians are better human beings than Christians. But there is no denying that Jesus is a historical person. Archaelogical evidence exist that he was real, only his divinity was debated and even rejected because it is a fearful thought. God actually living with us in history? Awesome! Unbelievable! Ridiculous!

If conspiracy theories are spun to discredit the birth of Jesus Christ they reflect distractions to question the spiritual destiny of both self and the human race. The Bible offer a roadmap out of our sinful lives. A chance to be reborn anew. The Bible has predicted the eventual end of the world, and human civilization. It is nearer than we think yet the Bible forbade us to predict since the end time is unknown. It can be the next hour, tomorrow, next year or 100 years from now. But the message of Christmas is always about being in a state of preparedness.

Are we?

What Else Will Go Missing?

We have read the embarrassing reports of how the RMAF of Malaysia lost 2 fighter engines and some associated equipment through poor security and inventory management. Now we have report of 2 missing excavators due no doubt to the same slackness in managing public properties. The Star Online headline today reminds us that some of the children abducted recently are still missing, due to lack of leads and police inefficiency.

As we approach the new year we may be looking at more disclosures of more missing assets and records. It will be a disaster to the government if public funds also go missing.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Making the Most of the Present

Many of us are guilty of spending too much time planning for the future and not enough living for the present. Years later we regret the tragic error of missing the wonderful moment of sharing and then spend time, in mistake again, in reliving or reminiscing the past. Neither the past nor the future bear any productive purpose to one's life. The past is a collection, the future a desire, a goal. But the present is where the actions are, where real memories are created, where happiness and joy are sowed and experienced. And challenges met and overcome.

I have a penchant of recollecting my past, which is what this blog started out as, so I won't forget and readers will know. But what importance is my past to anyone but me? Is it pride or self glorification? Perhaps I want to perpetuate myself in this virtual media that lives on even after I die, that I cannot erase unless the blog is deleted through inaction.

I also have a liking to organise and plan for the future. I relish in the thought of writing out my future goals and then live in them. The mistake is that the adventures of living spontaneously is robbed by forcing myself to live out a planned life.

Do you also make the same mistakes? I try to cut back on looking at how my future is to be and then write a script to live towards it. I learned that it can be stressful as well as unchallenging, so I make fewer plans now and allow the events that unfurl to direct me to the next step. It is like walking in a fog; I cannot plan where to walk but as the fog clears a little and I can see clearer I make my next move. This suggestion is not viable at the prime of your life. Your peers will disagree that if you live an unplanned life you will succeed. Many people will tell you that success comes with knowing what you want out of life, aiming determinedly in it and not straddling aimlessly. Before the arrival of the Internet Age we have much freer life as there are less organising to do. Even so now we can still plan to skip certain lifestyle that constrict us to behave robotically. Just be ourselves and let the world go by.

We all look forward to something and when it arrived we did not enjoy the moment but file it away, and look forward to the next future event. I have fallen victim to this habit and missed many opportunities of savouring the moment.

This Christmas and New Year I must remember that life is not about planning but living. I don't want to review my life 10 years from now, if I live to that age, and find I had not learned the lesson of really living out my sunset years.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Some 'Engine' Comments

People when angry can be really creative, and imaginative. I sometimes get vocabulary block. Words don't come easy to me, like in a song (whose singer and song title I forget). At my age it is forgiveable but I hope I don't get any worse. Anyway, reading some of the comments made me laugh. Here are a few I plucked up.

Tan Kian Khim: Najib says ' cover-up in missing jet engine investigation'. Clearly he means that this 'investigation' will be just like the 'no cover-up investigation' over the submarine commissions, Sukhois and Altantuya Shaariibuu murder. Has anyone checked whether the submarines still have their engines? Do the Sukhoi fighters still have wings? Do the soldiers actually have ammunition in their rifles or did someone sell that to Iran too? Maybe I should go and pick up a few missiles to sell for extra pocket money, since it seems so easy to smuggle a jet engine off an RMAF base. [this comment was before it was announced that 2 engines were stolen, not one]

Doc: Thank goodness the perpetrators were kind enough to only steal one engine. I presume the jet can still fly with the other engine (assuming that the other engine is still around and in working order). In view of the '1Malaysia' concept; '1engine', also can fly la! [this comment was before it was announced that 2 engines were stolen, not one]

Saya Boleh: What does he mean 'no cover-up'? The whole damn episode has been covered up since 2007. It's shameful.

AM Ayob: Why didn't Najib promise a 'no cover-up' in the Altantuya case? Is it because he was afraid the most undesirable would turn up? The stinkiest can of worms that can send some individuals to jail for a very long time?

Frankie Tan: No wonder those Nuri helicopters have been crashing so often throughout their lifespans. Could be that some of their engines were stolen to be replaced by Proton car engines?

Malaysians do have good sense of humour, don't they? But right now I doubt the prime minister is amused.

Oh No! It's 2 Engines!

Just when my blood pressure start going down it goes up again where I read THIS. What has our country become when the prime minster said one engine but the attorney-general said two? Maybe the actual theft involves 2 jetplanes instead. At this point the public cannot trust any information on this incident. No wonder many people are getting furious and mad, like this gentleman who has been a sore PITA (sorry cannot reveal the text behind this acronym but if you are imaginative you know what I mean). I hope the government will take up the challenge to get to the bottom of this shameful event.

The tenure of Najib as PM and his credibility are severely compromised by this revelation.

Don't Compromise Schoolchildren's Safety

I am horrified to read HERE that the scrapping age of school buses has been raised from 20 years to 30 years. Can you imagine a schoolboy 10 years old today riding on his new schoolbus to find it is still on the road when he is nearing 40 when he would have changed his cars 2 or 3 times by then? And perhaps his children are riding on one of them old buses? Scary?

Schoolchildren are our national treasures and should be prioritised in providing safe environment which include safe transportation. If parents can spend good money protecting their children indoor and outdoor I fail to see the rationale in not doing the same for schoolbuses.

OK, aging buses need to undergo annual roadworthiness inspections and even if they pass such inspections will not be able to predict failures in the chassis, body frames and seats, brakes, electrical wirings and suspensions in older vehicles. Added to the trend of parents preferring their kids in newer air-conditioned buses with comfortable seats, chances are these old buses will be used in smaller towns and villages. It is therefore unfair that village kids are treated less preciously than those in the urban areas.

Financial considerations should not override children safety and comfort. Imagine a nasty accident involving a busload of schoolkids that either injure or kill many of them. What then is the government's justification and explanation in giving children low priorities? Are children's lives less valuable that adults?

If bus fares has to be increased so be it as it cannot be avoided. This is the inflationary trend that affects every social strata. Keeping the cost low by not investing in newer vehicles which have better safety features is foolhardy and shortsighted. Older vehicles are definitely more expensive to maintain and spares harder to come by. But buying a new bus is more attractive. Depreciation over a 20 years period (assuming the current scrapping period is retained) will add in an affordable cost to make fare increase minimal. Plus newer vehicles are more fuel efficient, more environmentally friendly and of course more comfortable to ride. Chances are the operators can find more eager drivers who will shun decrepit and ugly vehicles that should have been consigned to the scrapyard. Imagine how forcing old buses into the graveyard will stimulate the commercial auto industry.

There is every justification to NOT extend the lifespan of school buses when it has reached the presently mandatory scrapping life of 20 years. The same argument also apply to commercial vehicles especially public buses.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Missing Jet Engine - a David Copperfield Trick?

I once saw David Copperfield made a real jetplane disappear on TV. It was a trick of course but the reading of THIS scandal is too much to stomach. It happened in 2007 while the current prime minister Najib Tun Razak was the defence minister but we only get to read of this now. Why?

Najib said "I decided we should report it to the police". Does it mean he had a choice NOT to? That if he decided NOT to report it is OK to sweep the theft under the carpet? Maybe he tried but things got out of hand after 2 years. Not reporting a crime is an offence, Najib ought to know that.

As reported HERE and HERE the engine was stolen from the Sungei Besi Air Base. As it was not a small engine like a car that can be hidden in a container and hijacked out of the air base hanger many people would be involved, including drivers, security personnel, engineers, technicians and even pilots who flew out the parts to South Africa.

The theft is a major heist that exposed the slack security in our airbase. Najib should take full responsibility as he was the then defence minister in charge.

The theft must be fully investigated as it is neither ordinary nor small, it involves the loss of a RM50 million equipment. And it has compromised our security system.

If the Opposition is to call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry on this I will give my support. If an engine can be stolen under the nose of the government, imagine a Trojan Horse being flown into our country without the knowledge of our defence personnel.

Now we have to resolve an additional poor international ranking : security. We have already flopped on education, corruption, transparency, pollution, rising crime, human rights. I pity Najib as he plates are full of worms.

A Glue that Won't Stick

I thought the registration of Pakatan Rakyat as a formal and legal coalition of the Keadilan, PAS and DAP political parties had been agreed by their top leadership but THIS news report indicates otherwise. Without the formal registration PR will not be able to form a stable government at either the state or federal level. At the moment the states of Penang, Kedah, Kelantan and Selangor are ruled by a loose coalition of the 3 parties that tend to disagree with each other on many issues and such disagreement has exposed the vulnerability of the Pakatan and made it a doubtful candidate to successfully run any government. No Pakatan ruled state has been without issues and the Barisan leaders take pleasure in deriding Pakatan everytime there is a public quarrel. The loss of Perak state in February this year to Barisan, albeit by underhanded means, showed how prone any Pakatan led state government is to be robbed of its power when its assemblypersons cross party lines.

Should we lose faith in Pakatan and give up our hope that they are ready to form a new government after the next general election? Will our confidence in Pakatan be swayed by the programmes the government is launching to win back the hearts of fence sitters? What we are seeing played out before our eyes is like a tennis match with one player winning one set, losing another and winning the third, and so forth. We cannot afford to have the country ruled by political coalitions that flip flop like tumbleweeds. If we cannot achieve political stability we cannot achieve sustainable progress.

The old glue that stuck the component parties in Barisan is slowly unsticking. See how the unraveling of internal conflicts in MCA, MIC, PPP and Gerakan have split the strength of the coalition that used to be formidable and beyond question? Yet today the oppositions are questioning how long Barisan will last and whether any of the component parties, especially the larger ones, will break away. The weakening of Barisan is a healthy trend. It means the components are discovering their rights to be treated with respect.

On the Pakatan front, the new glue that is to stick the parties is not of the right substance. While the Barisan glue used positions and rewards to entice the members to stay, the Pakatan glue must fill the gaps of ideological differences, willingness to make sacrifices for the larger good of the nation, and honoring human rights and a high moral standard of governance. There are enough common grounds among the 3 parties to go ahead to register Pakatan. But the unwillingness to give up some of their grounds will endanger the future of Pakatan.

Registration, like a marriage, is going to be a test of how serious these 3 parties are willing to come together and work as a team. Except for Keadilan which is 6 years old the other 2 parties have existed for 44 and 60 years so they are politically matured to know what the future holds for them if they do not change with changing time. Perhaps under the leadership of younger leaders some flexibility will emerge soon to get Pakatan off the ground.

We really need a 2 party system even if Barisan can prove that they can solve many of the outstanding problems outlined in their NKRAs and GTP. We need a viable opposition to check the incumbent government for any slipshod decisions. Meanwhile the race for the victory in the next general election has begun. Read HERE.

Is GST the Right Move?

Personally I disagree although it is the global trend. GST is a consumption tax so basically it is collected at the end of the production chain at the point it is consumed. It is just another way of collecting tax from the already badly taxed taxpayers. Although intermediary goods will not be taxed, and the producer can claim refunds, the process is tedious and many producers will either forget to claim, don't know how to claim, or lump the GST he has to pay to the government as a COST. There is even the likelihood that it will be treated as a cost to cover extra staff recruited to manage its accounting. Even if no new staff are employed some businesses may disguise the GST as a convenient way to earn more: claim refund and still charge the tax to the consumers.

Since many of the goods we buy are assembled from various manufacturers, each of whom has to pay GST at their level and claim back since their goods are components instead of finished products, failure by some of them will add on their claimable GSTs as costs to the goods and eventually this will multiply into a higher retail price, potentially even higher that what we are paying now as the tax structure now is simpler and easier to understand. The government will end up retaining some of the process goods GSTs which ought to be claimed but not due to the complexity of claiming. The losers? Consumers of course. The government may exempt some household items from GST but it will not stop prices from going up unless they are price controlled.

Theoretically GST will help the public to save. Why spend on goods or services you don't need which will be taxed? So the more careful spenders will think twice and budget his expenses better. But lifestyle is hard to amend and the government may take advantage of it.

The government claim that it stands to collect more tax under the GST structure is baffling and does not make mathematical sense. But it will make sense if we consider the 2 scenarios above. The GST when introduced will subject us to the mercy of unscrupulous traders who will raise prices using the excuses that it is the government new tax that forces them to. When public awareness and understanding is low we are easily exploited by these businessmen, especially the less educated masses.

We all detest taxes. They are like leaches the government place on you to suck you. Higher and more taxes reflect inefficiencies of the government. Changing the way we are taxed confuses us as to whether we are being exploited by the government which admits it has to raise more taxes to cover the shortfalls in oil revenue from Petronas. Businesses and individual taxpayers are vulnerable targets and the GST will become the new channel of drawing more from our savings.

The GST may trigger a new inflation that is hard to control even as the government find new ways to help us become a high income society, whatever this means. If it creates another round of price hike it will hurt the government at the next election.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Can Idris Jala Help BN Win 13th GE?

After I read THIS interview with the man who turned around Malaysia Airlines I reluctantly felt BN may stand a chance to recapture the next general election, perhaps with a bigger majority, if they can deliver the promises as set out in the Government Transformation Programme or GTP. It is bold and sky high but if anyone can it has to be Idris Jala who is pragmatic about his success since he is against the full resistance of some politicians and civil servants who cannot take the additional workload to produce the results promised.

Idris said, "I have no doubt about success because success is a matter of degree. We may not get to the highest peak, but definitely we will succeed to higher levels from current levels. I always believe certain things we can control and certain things we cannot. Sixty per cent of the things in our lives is not in our control. The 40% that we can control, we try our best." I cannot fault this line of explanation or his optimism.

Politically the people will fall for it and as long as positive results are shown investors will return and the overall economy of the nation will improve. This will spell bad news to Pakatan Rakyat which is still embroiled with uncertainty of registering as a coalition. While many voters are keen to give PR a fighting chance at the 13th GE, signs of disunity amongst its partners will not help build confidence that it can form the next viable government. And if the BN government is able to restore better inter-racial relationship in the coming months and convince the people, especially the lower and middle income group, that the soon to be imposed Goods and Sales Tax (GST) will not burden them, its chance of winning a snap election that the Opposition predicts to be held in about 18 months time is great. However, in Malaysian politics nothing is finalised until the last moment. Memory of the Perak power grab early this year is still fresh and anger with the partial judiciary and corrupt police force still linger. Unless these wounds are healed they will continue to haunt the Najib leadership and hurt his chances at the 13th GE irrespective how well the GTP performs.

Solving transportation woes, reducing crime, building more roads or raising household income aside, what is harder to overcome is racial disharmony and religious intolerance. This takes time and lots of perseverance, perhaps more than the 18 months to the projected next general election. Both the BN and PR will continue to woo the electorates and the final results is as uncertain as ever. Any misjudgment by the prime minister can send his chances down and if Anwar Ibrahim is jailed for the sodomy charge against him PR will suffer an immense loss of confidence. If anything is to happen to PAS strongman Nik Aziz who is unwell it can similarly rock the Opposition.

In the final analysis what Malaysians want is a holistic solution to the accumulated problems that screamed to be overcome in the next 2-3 years. Is this possible? Maybe Idris Jala can tell you more in 6 months time.

Lovely Meals

This morning we decided to take a drive to the Restoran Loon Sing which is famous for its Fatt Thieu Cheong (buddha jump over the wall) dish for our dimsum brunch. In fact the restaurant had won many international food awards since 1992. Unlike any other dimsum fare we ate elsewhere, the dimsum here were not served from pushcarts. Instead we have to place our orders and the food will be cooked fresh and served about 15 minutes later. Not surprisingly we discovered this an ecstatic experience and planned to revisit this well known restaurant again. In fact I had been here for 3 wedding dinners before and the food did not disappoint. The restaurant have 3 dining halls: one for general dining, 2 for banquets that can accommodate 30+ and 100+ tables. Care park space is ample. I understand the restaurant is popular even to clients from Kuala Lumpur.

Incidentally the owner is a Foochow like me but is from a different town (Bukit Pelandok in Negeri Sembilan). Foochows are a different dialect group from the Cantonese, Hokkien and Hakkas. If you want to taste authentic Foochow dishes make a beeline for Loon Sing.

Tonight we went for a repeat visit to the Win Loy Restaurant in City Park, Seremban 2 after enjoying our first dinner there 2 nights ago. We booked a table and pre-ordered our food, which was the right move as we did not wait for long. In fact our food came ahead of another table who were seated before we arrived. The dishes were very nice and reasonably priced.

If I am in a good mood it is probably I have eaten two lovely meals today.

Another Template

I guess I am never satisfied with my blog template. The last one did not last 2 months! It was so so and being a Sunday today, and with some free time up my sleeves, I thought I should try for another better looker. I hope this Japanese flavor will stand up for at least one whole year (or longer) before I decide to revamp its appearance, that is if I am still blogging! Basically I prefer a clean look with a readable background although the font size is a wee bit small. Hope you like it. Let me know.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Greetings

We are just a week from Christmas celebration. How are you celebrating?

Honestly I did not celebrate like going on shopping spree or splurging myself with food and I don't intend to do so on Christmas day either. I find shopping tedious unless I buy stuffs I really need and I find eating beyond my regular portions uncomfortable to my digestive system. This is why I don't particularly welcome over-eating at weddings, birthdays and festivals but sometimes temptations get the better of me.

I celebrate in a small way at Christmas in the way of thanksgiving that we all have Christmas to celebrate. I wonder what if there is no Christmas??? Have you ever consider the tragedy of that? No Christmas means ...

1. There is no Christianity
2. No Christianity means no relationship with Jesus Christ who is the Son of God
3. No relationship with Jesus means no salvation and no eternal life

Non-Christians will see little or no relevance in the above scenario but I find life hollow and tragic if there is no God to develop a spiritual relationship with and to be able to faithfully know that when we die He will take us home. Christianity gives me the assurance of my next destination in life and Christmas reminds me that God loves all of His creations to send His son to open the doors of salvation to all. From generation to generation, from east to west and north to south, God calls us to His side with the Christmas message - Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all men. I guess we all long for this to be realised for our world is not at peace and goodwill is scarce.

This Christmas I pray that the longing to see a better world, and be in a better world, start in your heart, spurred by the desire to know the Author of that vision. It will come about and Christmas is about believing and trusting.

Have a blessed Christmas wherever you are. In whatever state you are, give Christmas a chance to deliver joy and assurance of a better life.

P/S Tomorrow I will sing in my church choir. This Christmas I will be liturgist during worship. As I prepare for these roles I thank God that I can be useful as well as willing.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Wedding Anniversaries

This year my wife and I have been married for 36 years. Today my eldest girl celebrates her 10th anniversary. My other 2 children are each married for 5 years. We have three grandchildren and the fourth is on the way. I hope a few more will come before we get too old to enjoy them. Many friends envy where we are now; some have children much older and still unmarried while others have married children who have yet to bear them grandchildren. In a way we are ahead of many of our classmates some of whom married late and whose children are just out of college and working. Maybe we planned our family but I believe God also work in His plan for us and blesses us. This Christmas we feel especially thankful for the all-roundedness of our family ties. When I read the many anniversary and birthday cards our children sent us over the years, they collectively speak of their love and respect for us. I am overwhelmed by their dedication and thoughtfulness.

Grandchildren are certainly blessings and I believe we must enjoy them in order to feel the blessings. Is is a shame not to be part of their growing up years as they may not be close to you. But to be part and close to them means some sacrifice and compromise. Certainly we have to forego some traveling plans, adjust our routines as well as suffer some inconveniences. All these will translate into a spiritual and emotional encounter that cannot be easily expressed but they are ours nonetheless, and for the years to come I believe relationship in the family will be strengthened because we have invested time and resources.

The greatest happiness any grandparent can ask is being recognized, thought of and hugged. These expressions are the rewards of having invested heavily in the upbringing of children and grandchildren.

NKRA What?

Frankly I think the entire exercise is to boost the image of the flagging BN government. All the initiatives are supposedly part and parcel of the day to day work of the government. Just because it has failed miserably does not mean it now have to boast what it is doing to heal the nation of its many woes. In the corporate world the government would have been sacked long ago. Now that the initiatives have been revealed publicly, reactions are not as back thumping as expected. Why?

Problems created over the past 2 decades will not be solved in a matter of 1-2 years. Sick cultures have set in, distrust have become the norm and people have become cynical. I think the government should just go on with their jobs quietly and forget about measuring their performance as if they are out to seek a fresh mandate for the next election.

Just Do It.

Update 7.00pm:

After reading THIS I really think that the government is going to shoot its own feet because it must get the police, the various ministries involved, the local councils AND the civil servants to cooperate to deliver the results promised. This really involve revamping the tidak-apa or 'lazy' work culture prevalent in the government departments. I wonder if we can expect a miracle. If it does happen I must express my anger for the years of destructive and negative politicking that hurt the various races and drive our best talents abroad. But better late than never. Let this not be another empty promise.

Of greater concern than solving the problem areas identified is how to heal the distrust between the Malays and non-Malays and bringing back religious tolerance, respect for the Constitutions and honouring the Rukun Tetangga. Let us start by avoiding uttering seditious words and condemning those who do, irrespective of party and background. As Malaysians we must close ranks against 'enemies' and 'rivals' from abroad. Let's not waste any more time if we are to achieve our Vision 2020.

MACC Free to Interrogate After Office Hours

The decision by the Court of Appeal as reported HERE is almost expected judging by the trend of the superior courts nearly always reversing the judgments of the lower (high) courts, giving the impression the junior judges were either incompetent or not well verse with the laws. But when the superior courts failed to give its written judgment or explain why the lower courts have erred, especially in citing the relevant laws that qualifies MACC to interrogate at anytime of the day, the public will be sceptical of the authority of the superior courts and may even cast disdain over its bullying power.

I don't agree with the Appeal Court ruling because it failed to impress me with a strong argument and evidence. MACC as an investigative body cannot think that they are like the police who have shown that they are above the laws. Even the advisor board members are not convinced that MACC should be allowed to query witnesses after working hours as reported HERE.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Is the Malaysian 'Titanic' Finally Turning?

Read HERE.

For sometime now Nazri has been vocalizing views and opinions very much expected of the Opposition and the general public. Coffeeshop talks would confirm all that he said. But Nazri is just a junior minister, a young one, but controversial. Yet whatever he said does carry some weight. He was the de facto law minister in the previous cabinet and now minister in the prime minister's department. Although he had been called a racist himself before but lately he seemed to have undergone a sort of baptism. He seemed transformed in his utterances. He condemned former PM Tun Mahathir, called him racist for supporting the National Civic Bureau curriculum that is condemned by many course participants as divisive and racialist. The current PM Najib Tun Razak is revamping the course curriculum to make it more inclusive and in line with his 1Malaysia concept. It is better late than never but the task of regaining public trust is uphill and will take more than outbursts from the like of Nazri to sustain it. But a start has been made. The Malaysian Titanic seems to be making a turn to avert disaster started by no less than Tun Dr Mahathir in his 22 years of ruling the country from 1981 to 2003. He alone is responsible for the decay in our educational system, racial harmony, religious extremism and corruption level. Whatever the previous PM Tun Ahmad Badawi and the current PM are doing are firefighting and damage control of problems started by Mahathir.

We look for the like of Nazri to harp on the issues that hurt all Malaysians. We want the country to stem the bleeding losses from illegal claims and overpriced tenders, high taxes, suspicion between the races, hatred and jealousy, incompetency and injustice. We hope that the Nazri outbursts are not just a blip but the start of a long but purposeful effort to restore the true Malaysian spirit that we, especially those above 40 years, experienced before 1980. When Malays, Chinese and Indians consider each other friends than foes and trust each other to grow the nation together.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Malay Identity Crisis

As a Chinese born in and living in Malaysia I should not be writing about the matter of the major race of my country but watching how it has become engulfed in an identity crisis and fighting to forge its authority over the minority races as well as trying to speak out at international forums as a Muslim nation I am thinking that the Malay leadership is lost in knowing who they really are and what they should do to keep the Malay race known, relevant and constructive in the global and regional politics.

I just read the article by Syed Hussein Al Attas entitled 'One Malaysia Without Malays' HERE. It seems the author is afraid that one day the Malays will become non-existent if it does not continue to rail the idea of Malay Supremacy every now and then to remind the rest of the citizenry who is the boss. Mr. Al Attas wrote, "The fear of losing the identities among the Malays have been ever present. After 1969 however the Malays have gradually accepted the idea of a shared land." or that if they are not identified with Islam the Malay race will have no hinge to hang to.

I believe the Malay race is able to exist and prosper without having to tie to a religion or to continually remind others who is boss of the land. The problem is politically created to weaken the race so that the Malay will not be able to compete on a level ground. Granted that the Malays are easy going and do not have a traumatic history of being overun, conquered and diminished, they can nonetheless stand up in the face of global competition if they were not fed with weakness of subsidies and more subsidies until this become a culture by itself. If the Malays resist and decline preferential treatment they can be as good as any race, and I think there are already towering Malays who prove they can stand alongside successful entrepreneurs of other races without depending on government supports.

The concept of a Malay who must also be a Muslim to qualify as a bumiputera (privilege status) has weakened the Malay race drastically. They cannot have the freedom to be themselves and they are inclined to stay 'captured' to benefit from their special status over the other races who are non-bumipeteras.

It is a public shame to declare that the majority race is still in need of special treatment after over 50 years of independence. It admits that the Malay race had failed which is unkind but true, yet they are unable to free themselves to be their own destiny.

The writer asked, "will the Malays be marginalised in a land they once called Tanah Melayu of the Sri Wijaya?" and my answer is if they are it is their own doing. The administration of the country has always being in their hands and yet the economic wealth is not within their control inspite of government assistance. He hit the truth in this statement, "Malays won’t perish because of war or hunger, but they will perish now, because they no longer are a believer and a doer."

Why then are they not believer or doer? The answer is in that they are easy going and think ostrich, and the government helps the process. As a nation of many races we want the Malays to be competitive generally so that the country as a whole is competitive. Unfortunately today only a small fraction are while the majority continue to harbor the 'Insyah Allah' or 'God Willing' belief that takes a fatalistic approach towards one's destiny. Yes, God ultimately decides if what we plan succeed or fail but not for not trying hard enough. To succeed today we of whatever race and background must be industrious, innovative and creative.

The writer asked, "Without Islam, will they still be Malays?"

I ask back if they were less Malay before they adopted Islam as their religion? Were Malays in existence before Islam was founded by Prophet Mohammad? Malayness is not conditional to embracing a religion which is a faith from the heart. As a youth I see Malays behaving as Malays that I do not see now. Now I see Malays trying to behave as Arabs and pious Muslims which rob them of their Malay identity that I wish is still there. The real Malay is buried under their lifestyle that we seldom see except maybe in the rural settings. And with an aggressive stance of Islamisation of the Malaysian society there is a loss of confidence that we will ever see the Malay more than the Muslim.

In ending the writer suggested "This open society advocates a separation of religion and the state and coupled with its humanist convictions fights for humanity such that no man can be an island. If Malaysia is moving towards this direction, then the Malays should take the opportunity to be part of the team who writes the script for this path to be taken."

Absolutely. Race and religion must be kept separate for a nation to grow to its limit. Nowhere in the world is any race compelled to be framed within a forced religion. It is unnatural and invites internal rebellion. It creates suspicion and delineates some to question why they cannot be free to choose, even ask. The modern Malaysian Malays must understand that they holds the keys to both their own and the nation's destiny if they dare to question the status quo and seek the better way to become true Malays and uphold their cultures and identity. I believe Malayness is always there, it just beg to spring up to be expressed more naturally, even in practices that has nothing to do with Islam, like the dances and costumes.

In a land that is called Malaysia there is a strong call to return to its roots, be it Tanah Melayu or land of the Malays. I think the other races would welcome more friends of the Malay backgrounds minus the religious connections.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Compassion versus Rule of Law

Today we read of how persistence paid off for a mother who appealed to the Home Minister to register her 17 year old daughter as a citizen. Read HERE for more details.

While I congratulate them for the success I cannot help but feel that again, like the Chin Peng's case, it has been handled inappropriately. If the girl was not registered at birth at the Malaysian Embassy in Indonesia but only when she was 5 year old when the family came back to Malaysia have they defaulted the right of the child? Is the non-registration just a technical error subject to penalty or a total denial of citizenship right? Is a child born to Malaysians anywhere in the world automatically a citizen of the country of the parents' or one of the parents?

I cannot understand why it has taken 5 years for the parents to register, they cannot be that dumb to let the girl live in citizenship limbo. And I cannot understand more why the immigrations have to take 12 years to resolve this simple issue, and then with the intervention of the minister.

The rule of law must first take effect in this and other similar cases. Only if the application is rejected (and the grounds stated) can the applicant appeal to the higher authority to reconsider on grounds of compassion. In this case I don't think due process was followed. From the report it seems that the case was sitting under a big pile of appeal letters and it takes the minister to personally intervene to have it dug up, studied and a decision made.

How many applicants can have the persistence (and perhaps charisma) of Chong Yen Foong? Or the 'connections' if any to get to intercept the minister and receive his attention? It would appear that there may be many more deserving cases than this to approve but for the lack of privileged passage they are either denied or have to wait for God knows how many more years and waste how many more precious days and money visiting the immigration offices.

The process of reviewing all applications for citizenship must be transparent, fair and expedited. The minister should only intervene when rejected cases are brought up to him and not while they are still being processed. It seems that in Malaysia 'potong jalan' or 'queue cutting' is an acceptable practice.

(Picture credit: thestar online)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Comment on Nutgraph's Report

I made the following comment in Nutgraph's article written by Deborah Lo HERE.

As a Christian I am often confronted with choice, between what is lawful and what is of love. By that I mean we can decide to use law to solve conflict, or use love to end them.

Law is man-made, so it can also be unmade, as we are now seeing in the Malaysian government's decision to dishonor the Haadyai Peace Treaty. (They may decide to upturn this stance, if we can believe what Tun Dr Mahathir has said about the public "allowing Chin Peng to return" ... this is as good as not commenting, since how do we assess the level of "permission" that qualifies Chin Peng to return?)

No, the reason why Chin Peng was denied his right as protected by the Treaty is because it would raise anger and emotion. But that must not be the stance the government should take. If so, the government would always be reacting to how the public feels about current issues, and would never promulgate policies and laws based on in-depth study and visionary thinking.

The government has been overly reactive and shallow in dealing with matters that show a lack of leadership, such that now it is bent on listening to how a particularly segment of society is feeling and then moulding their replies accordingly; that is, pandering to the gallery, which is a terrible and wrong way to run a nation. A just government must rule based on principles and professionalism, instead of popularity. We are at high seas and at risk of being destroyed by a government with visionless thinking!

Back to the issue of Chin Peng. The treaty gave him the right to return. Period. The government denied him. Period. What does this leave us who are called by a name given by God? A creation called man made in God's image, and hence able to display love and compassion? And with a gift to forgive?

Instead, we not only fail to see love or compassion; we see hatred being spread out against a spent man. It is laughable that we are so afraid of a 85-year-old man, that he still has the influence to change Malaysia back to a communist state. For this, I believe Chin Peng must have felt a snicker of laughter that he can still control Malaysia's destiny! The fact is, he can't; and we have moved too far ahead to think that communism might be an option to adopt.

The concept of forgiveness is applicable only by people who understand what it is. The world at large considers forgiveness as a weakness, a surrender, or worst, an admission that we lost and therefore want an end to strife and misunderstanding. But forgiveness is really a balm and a cure to human ills, more so to the forgiver than the forgiven. It is a return to normalcy, a way to say, "Let us start all over again" — or, as children would say, "Can we be friends again?"

I cannot imagine how much hurt can be melted away when we forgive, and how much life we can regenerate thereafter both for ourselves and the person we forgave. In forgiving we loosen the knot of pain and hurt, and allow our spirits to be restored. I wonder if the Malaysian government leaders who push so hard to not forgive Chin Peng really understand how much they and the nation could benefit.

Let go of the past, I say. Chin Peng will not lead a parade or rally like Bersih or Hindraf to Sitiawan, Perak. He just wants to go home. And that is what we will all want one day when we arrive at his age. To find peace and go home to eternal rest.

I am still praying that our leaders will awake to political maturity and decide, not based on public reaction but based what is morally right and correct, to say that Chin Peng's crime against innocent Malayans are forgiven, and to rally all Malaysians to move on towards Vision 2020.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Can You Trust a Dishonorable Government?

Recently we read of two high profile cases in which the Federal government of Malaysia dishonored the agreements it made several years ago.

The first was the Peace Treaty it signed in 1989 with the Communist Party of Malaya and Thailand to end communist insurgencies in Thailand and Malaysia and to allow the communists to return to their country of birth. The Malaysian government dishonored it by denying Chin Peng his right to return to Malaysia and frustrate all his attempts. This dishonoring is destroying our credibility as a government. It shows the Malaysian government can choose to pick what it like to honor or dishonor. It can also damage the reputation of Malaysians doing business overseas as investors and customers may see this as a pattern and a culture that Malaysians are generally dishonorable.

The second dishonor is local. It deals with how the federal government interpretes the Petroleum Development Act in deciding against granting oil royalty to Kelantan. Read HERE for what Tengku Razaleigh says about the way the government is handling this issue. Razaleigh is a Kelantanese prince and Kelantan is under PAS control but there is absolutely no reason nor justice to mistreat the state or redefine the royalty money as 'Wang Ehsan' or goodwill money. It is like saying to the Kelantan government that you do not deserve the money but we, the federal government, is giving you out of our goodwill and charity. In other words, a gift. However, the PDA has written it as a right of the state to receive the money. By dishonoring the Act the federal government reveals its double standard in punishing opposition held states and rewarding its own states. It does not take a genius to see the parallel in the Cinderella and the Ugly Sisters story here.

A government that refuses to honor contracts written cannot be working towards a developed status. It also set a terrible example to budding politicians.

December Flies In

I always have a tinge of sadness when December comes. Like the ending of a movie, or the demise of someone you love, December as the last month of a year represents to me the ending of something. It may be a good ending or a bad one, but nonetheless an ending. Each ending calls for a moment of reflection.

My first reflection is that 2009 passes too fast. I wish time can be slowed down a bit. Like on a coaster speeding downhill I wish I could applied some brake to claim more of the God-given 24 hours day but this is of course not negotiable. The same time given me is also given you and to every other living person. I still remember 10 years ago when the world was placed on high alert, and fear, that computers worldwide will crash and data corrupted when the computer clock changed from 1999 to 2000. Of course it was a hoax and no disaster happened but I remember almost 10 years ago I was mingling with strangers at an outdoor concert awaiting for the year to rollover to a new millennium. There was no bang, just a quiet tickover to a new century. And now the first decade of the new century is just about to enter its last year.

Of course the real reason why I detest time speeding away is that I will be older, and another year later, older still. It is not strange that most of us think more as we age more. Maybe we have more time or perhaps we are more sensitive to what time can do to us, especially our health, our bodies, our spirit. If I have to make a resolution that I know I will, and can, keep, it is to enjoy my time more by enjoying my grandchildren for they symbolise my younger time. It is like pouring springwater into an old urn, like ironing away the creases of an old cloth, like sweeping away the cut blades of old grass on the lawn to reveal new growth beneath. Time may be old but a fresh attitude can always inject new vigor and energy into rejuvenating it.

December will end a year but it will precede a new January. I have watched 61 Decembers slide away and my 62nd January watches me approaching. It will be a nice year, 2010, because it is an even year. I like a number that ends in a zero because it represents completeness, which explains why my car registration numbers both end in zero. And I like the perfect score, 100, that I seldom achieve academically which suggested my imperfectness that I gladly accept.

This December will be a busy month with weddings to go and meetings to attend. They will keep me away from dwelling on the passing time, which will steal away the days and before I realise it, the year will have reached its end.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chin Peng Helped Promote Sitiawan

The tourism ministry should thank Chin Peng for raising the profile of Sitiawan as a tourist spot. It may take a notorious spot as the birthplasce of the most hated communist of the country but mention Sitiawan I'm sure most people who read the news now will start associating it with Chin Peng as well as a place well known for its Foochow delicacies and jumpoff to Pangkor island.

Read HERE for Rise & Fall of Communism in Malaya.

Storm in the Teacup?

Is the Dubai Financis Crisis a storm in the teacup? When news broke on Wednesday that Dubai sought to delay its debt repayment due from its Dubai World conglomorate it caused several major stock markets to sell down in fear of bigger problems ahead. Dubai World owed $59 billion out of the $80 billion owed by the Dubai government. Is the crisis bad enough for the stock market worldwide to react violently as if it is going to be a repeat of the financial disaster caused by the US subprime credit crisis that began unraveling in 2007 and reached its full impact a year later? We all know how deadly the subprime crisis had been and how many have lost their savings. Should we react now to sell off our stocks even if they are not related to the Dubai crisis or should we wait for clearer signs? Or do we fear a domino effect?

It is really a tough decision but conventional wisdom tells me that this is but a storm in a teacup and will soon blow over. THIS report confirms my gut feeling that the stock markets did over-react in their Thursday and Friday trade. I am awaiting to see how they will respond when the trading resumes on Monday morning, especially the Bursa Malaysia which was closed last Friday for Aidiladha holiday. Selling my investments will be taking a herd mentality and my take is to hold position for a clear sign to emerge. Even if the markets continue its selldown, opportunities exist to pick up some good stocks before the market begins to recover. At very most the Dubai debt will delay the recovery from recession but it does not signal the end of the world.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wait Till You Are Ready to Die

After I read THIS report about Chin Peng, I thought I should continue the vein of my previous blog on him. I did not realise that our government is this dishonorable, that because of hatred against a man and his principles they would renege on the agreement to allow him to return to Malaysia. Is Muhyiddin saying that the present government, since it disagree with the Barisan government of the day in 1989, will not honor the spirit of the promise? I am flabbergasted at this kind of back stabbing. It says a lot about how honorable he is and the government he represents, and it shows that the Barisan government today will twist anything written in its favour. Perhaps this is what is happening to our judiciary and police, that interpretations can be twisted and evidence manufactured or modified. It is a scary scenario as it suggest that truth can be swapped with lies and promises can be discarded like junks.

Just wait till you are in the same spot as Chin Peng when you are ready to die and you have your dying wish. We all have our dying wishes. My dying wish is to die at home in familiar surroundings and to have my affairs in good order and my family well taken cared of and in harmony with one another. From my readings, Chin Peng's dying wish is to see his birthplace again, to visit his family, relatives and long lost friends, and to die in Sitiawan, Perak with his family around him, perhaps in the very shop he grew up in, and eventually to be buried next to his late father and grandfather in the cemetery in Sitiawan. Chin Peng is a spent man who has lost much of his memory, weak and with just one desire: like ET said 'Home' while pointing his finger skyward.

Aside from honoring the agreement to let Chin Peng go home, the Malaysian government must demonstrate that it is man enough to show its humanity. Chin Peng cannot hurt Malaysia anymore. The past cannot be reactivated. Saying 'Yes' to Chin Peng will create more than goodwill for the government. It also mean that it has decided to fulfil its end of the agreement made 20 years ago.

Note: My sentiment has nothing to do with the fact that Sitiawan, Perak is also my birthplace or that I was born just 2 miles away from Chin Peng's ancestral shop. I don't know him and my sentiment is purely from the perspective that we should be honorable and we should always have a forgiving heart. I can empathise with Chin Peng because if I am also caught in a strange land that is not my home, it will be my longings too to go home to a place familiar.

For the record I wish to quote a comment from THIS report that should summarise how we feel:

written by Hj. Muhammad Yusof Saad., October 15, 2009

I don’t want to entangle with any argument or debate for this issue because I fervently believe it is just an academic discussion that bear no academic significance anymore but producing emotional outburst.

In the nutshell, just bring him home and honour his wishes. Call what you like about him, I really don’t care anymore but one thing remained undisputed fact, that he is an independence fighter, a man who fought for the independence of this country; it is just the different side of the coin.

After accomplish 52 years of independence, it is seem that we still unable to reconcile ourselves with the past. SHUT UP ! And bring the old man home. Not just bring him home but also bring him home with honour and dignity. May God bless him and I fervently wish that his wishes would be granted.

Hj. Muhammad Yusof Saad.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thinly Veiled Threat by MACC

In THIS report the Director of Investigations of MACC, Datuk Mohd Shukri Abdull, said that all interviews of witnesses will be carried out during office hours from 8.30am to 5.30pm which is what the KL High Court ruled HERE. This is what we want to hear after the sudden death of Teoh Beng Hock raised suspicions on why he was kept late into the night. This is respecting the human rights of people called in to assist the MACC to solve corruption cases. Witnesses are not criminals and should be accorded due respect. Even suspects have rights until proven guilty. But what the director said next was unbecoming. He said,

“We urge people who want to lodge reports with us or who want to give us their statements to come to the MACC office in the early morning or afternoon to avoid any inconvenience."

As the role of MACC is to investigate corruptions they should be ready to accept reports at ANY TIME of the day even at THEIR inconvenience for the sake of weeding out corruptions. The court ruling NEVER said MACC cannot accept reports at night, it only ruled that witnesses cannot be interviewed past normal working hours.

If I want to make a report at 8pm after my work and MACC says 'Sorry, please come back tomorrow at 8.30am' won't that be telling me they are not interested in looking at my report unless I meet their working hours condition? I think this statement is a threat and ill-thought out as well as showing sign of being immature in not looking at the issue from the proper context.

The MACC may appear to be blamed by the public for the wrong handling of the Teoh Beng Hock death in its Shah Alam premise but we never blame MACC per se on its right to investigate. We are only asking it to investigate with proper decorum.

If a death occurred within its premise it must be investigated thoroughly. For now it seems that some evidence are being kept away and this raises more suspicion that someone in MACC is guilty of wrongdoing which cast a very bad impression on MACC as a whole.

MACC or its high ranking officers must be more responsible in handling public relations issues such as this and not issue a thinly veiled threat to the public to toe their lines or forget about reporting corruption cases to them.

(Picture credit: thestar online)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Indonesian vs Filipino Maids

An interesting research HERE by Nutgraph reveals that age, education, communication skills, maturity AND active involvement of the host governments contribute to the quality of services maids provide. I may also add that the role of the maid agencies in the host countries is critical in that they should filter those who are unsuitable to work overseas. There are a host of reasons ranging from family background, personal hygiene, lack of exposure to modern household environment, psychological and emotional insecurity of living away from home, and inability to adapt to new cultures and diet. For financial reasons some unqualified maids may want to leave home and lie but once they are engaged they cannot perform and become targets of anger and even abuse.

Since employers do not have benefits of face-to-face interviews it is crucial that foreign agencies take on the intermediary role to improve the chance of successful engagement and happier relationship between maids and their employers.

In the coming months we expect 2 new maids to come to work for our families. It is with some finger crossing that we pray that they will be as good as their resume and photos reveal. It will not be to anyone's good if there is disappointment in the new engagement. As employers we will do what we can to make the maids accustom quickly to their new employment but they will also have to do their part to build up a cordial relationship. Both parties have invested heavily so it will be to everyone's good to see that from the onset there will be a happy chemistry.

Grow Up

Political maturity is still in its infancy if THIS REPORT is to be interpreted as backward looking and not expansive in dealing with the better side of human virtues. It seems that the Malaysian government is adopting a revengeful attitude in disallowing Chin Peng (real name Ong Boon Hua) to return to the country of his birth to live out his last days. It choose to apply a legal approach forgetting that it has a choice to be compassionate. For once I wish the government take this opportunity to show that it is a caring and human government to a Malaysian albeit he was a communist.

Granted that Chin Peng did cause hundreds of civilians to die but as he explained in the interview reported in the recent Sunday Star articles (HERE, HERE and HERE) that ".. in war, we cannot differentiate the innocent from the non-innocent”. There are no winners in any battle.

Communism has died in Malaysia so there should be no fear of a resurgence. I don't believe the government is afraid of this. I believe the reason for denying Chin Peng his dying wish is to nail in its power over a man who was labeled an Osama of his days.

Where is the spirit of forgiveness? Is forgiving a man of his past sins a sign of weakness? The truth is by forgiving we are releasing ourselves from the pent up hatred, anger and prejudice that eat up our souls and forever deny us the peace of putting the past to rest. Forgiving does MORE good to the forgiver than the person we forgive. Those who understand the spirit and benefits of forgiving can tell you the peace that transcends the forgiver. It is like a bad chapter has closed so life can go on. It is like waking up from a nightmare to a new day. It is giving hope a chance to grow. It is loosening the chains to the past and be freed to live more productively.

What will happen if we as a nation and as a government forgive Chin Peng and allow him to return?

1. We show goodwill to the man who we brand a murderer
2. We restore him and prove that we are magnaminous
3. We display our political maturity in handling this issue with compassion
4. We release our past and move forward
5. We declare that we can also love a man who killed our parents or grandparents

If we really want to move towards a society that accepts the highest human standards we must learn to recognize that we all stand condemned and we all need forgiveness in one form or another. Therefore, start forgiving as a way of dealing with fellow human beings.

Granting Chin Peng his final joy to come back will be a good sign that we are no longer bound to the dark past of human sufferings and willing to move ahead to a brighter future. I pray this will happen before he dies.

(Photo credit: thestar online)

Maid of Malaysia

A few months back someone suggested a preposterous idea that Malaysian girls (and even wives) may one day leave our shores to work as maids in other countries. Preposterous because we now employ some 300,000 foreign maids so how can we even think that the situation can be reversed? A report HERE now reinforces the possibility. The new scenario is scary because it will not be just about maids. If Malaysians have to go out to work in low pay jobs it means that we will have lost even more talented professionals and that our job markets will not have enough vacancies to employ low skills workers. Is Najib's idea of a high income society that he mooted in his October budget speech refer to a thin strata of professionals who earn far higher than they are earning now and choose to omit addressing the bulk of the lower paying non-professional workers who struggle for employment and better pay?

To stay competitive we have to produce both goods and services that outrank those from other similarly developing nations but at lower costs. It is illogical to equate lower costs with higher income unless productivity is grossly increased through automation and advanced technology. If the government and the private sectors invest heavily in importing such equipment and technology to boost the productivity it means a sacrifice of a large segment of manual workers who will be redundant in the new business culture.

By and large the Malaysian education system has failed to prepare its graduates for the job market with a resilient, realistic and competitive approach to the work environment. Many graduates want the easiest jobs with the highest pays and they also want to be driving cars and own houses within a few years of starting work. They want to be instantaneously successful. This sort of expectations go against the demands of successful corporations that require their employees to work late, contribute beyond their scope of work and be creative and ambitious. If many of these graduates fall along the way they and the education system that produces their mindset are to be blamed. In short Malaysia's failure to attract more foreign investments will be caused largely by an attitude problem of the workforce. It is a massive problem that will not find an immediate solution anytime soon, certainly not in time for the Vision 2020 target.

I dare say that beyond exporting maids we will be even exporting graduates to work as clerks and supervisors in India, China, even Thailand and Philippines. Those who successfully get jobs overseas must be thankful that they get employed as by then it may be that there will be a glut of unemployed graduates from a glut of local universities set up to churn up graduates with poor communication skills and little idea of how to carry out a job.

The trend of exporting maids and even graduates will surely trigger a negative desire of most Malaysian professionals to return or even expatriates to migrate or retire here. What will they think of a nation that continue to backslide in comparision to their neighbors who have caught up? The successful Malaysians who stay on will have little to worry but the environment they live in will not be conducive to long term residence as there will be much frustrations and discontent. There may be more civil disorders and insecurity. As a whole the mindset and mentality of the population must undergo a dramatic transformation. For a start, the admission that we need to work hard, extra hard, and to be enslaved by other cultures in order to regain our footing and rise up again. For now we need to look seriously at the mirror and confess that pride indeed do come before a fall.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Be Young, Forever

Many a times I hear wives telling their husbands to behave themselves in public when they try something that can embarass themselves, like prancing around like a kid or enjoying ice cream with great relish or taking off their shirts. Are we not conditioning ourselves to behave as what people expects us to? As we sail from youth into young adulthood and then into middle age and later into old age, we subtlely change our public conduct to fit into the molds expected of our age.

But does our mind age in tandem with our body? I know for sure that although my body may be showing signs of ageing, such as having aches and pains, and gaining pouches in the wrong places my mind have not changed much. In fact my mind tries to return to my past to recapture moments that will be forever lost when my body refuses to respond to its commands.

Apart from becoming more philosophical and thoughtful, I feel I retained the zeal and zest I possessed in my teenage days. Often I want to break out in laughter or sing openly but I tell myself that it may be unbecoming for me to do so. Just the other day while I was waiting for the traffic lights to change, I was tuned into a local radio station playing out a familiar pop song of the 1980s. I decided to turn the volume way way up and sang along. I don't care if I was being watched. All I knew was that I enjoyed myself. I might not have lived my age then but I knew that I had lived my life.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Personal Space

I was recently at a clinic and while waiting to be seen I chose a seat that is at least one seat vacant from another patient. And I also see this happening with other patients. Chances are those who sit together sit because the waiting room is packed, or they are family or friends. Strangers would try to leave a gap to enlarge their personal space.

I equate personal space to privacy and to territorial ownership. When I want more privacy I would go to a secluded spot away from prying eyes and intruding noises to read, meditate or even nap. And I would want more space about me to preserve a larger territorial ownership as such a space not only give me more room to manouvre but also lesser chance of intrusion. You may call this a sign of selfishness but I would call it human nature. You may even suggest that they are one and the same since humans are by nature selfish (some of you may disagree but watch how babies fight for their things without being taught).

That is why seats are numbered so that we don't spill into each others space. The not so rich go economy and have smaller seats while the wealthy go business or first class and have larger seats. Therefore personal space is connected to power, position and wealth. Poorer folks ride bicycles and motorcycles and drive compact vehicles but richers folks drive limo. Personal space gets larger the wealthier you become. Wealthy people don't stay in small houses but large mansions. They have pools and gardens.

Maybe even in death the ordinary folks get buried in 3' x 8' plots but the rich have one ten time the size or larger.

When people are in love they share their spaces, like sleep in joint bed and use common bath.

When they fall out of love they move apart physically.

In whatever situation I believe that we need to possess 2 spaces: a private personal space and a public personal space. The private space may not even get shared with our closest friend or spouse. It s the public personal space that we are willing to surrender.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

YES 2009

YES starts today till 3rd January 2010 and is a nationwide sales carnival in which all major departmental stores offer hefty discounts up to 70% to attract customers. I took advantage of the weekend to visit Mid Valley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur with my family this afternoon and bought myself a pair of nice Hush Puppies waterproof leather shoes for a Christmas gift to myself. I could not wait for Christmas so I wore them immediately after paying for them to condition the new shoes. HP shoes are soft and comfortable which is why they are rather pricey but I think my feet deserve some attention too.

Ling enjoyed the outing too, was very well behaved and loved the Baskin Robbins ice cream. Each of us bought something for ourselves. We came back home after enjoying a nice dinner at Victoria Station in Petaling Jaya. Tired but accomplished.

Keeping the Glow of Love Alive

There is no perfect love in this world, and no love stays the same throughout a relationship. At the onset, love will be ideal, pure and perfect, but as reality sets in, two people in a loving relationship will start redefining and readjusting what they expect to give and receive in their relationship. There will be disappointments, sometimes they will break off. However, if that love manage to sustain the relationship through marriage, family and trials, it will hold two people together through more years. But the glow of that love will both ebb and grow strong at various stages of life. The main thing is to never allow that glow to become extinguished through coldness, frustrations and hopelessness.

Sometimes a love may morph into a survival mode. Two people stay together not so much in love but to keep the relationship or family going out of convenience. In effect there is no more good reason to stay together because there is little or no love left. How sad!

I believe the glow of love still remains in the worst of relationship. Perhaps no one has been stoking the fire for too long, Perhaps nothing has been poured over the relationship to bring the ember firing again.

What is life without love? And who can rekindle the love between two people that has gone bad? Is it pride that cause the separation? Or so much hurt that an impenetrable barrier has been built? People suffering from a love lost relationship are crying to be rescued to love again. If you find yourself in such a situation, whether as 'victims' or as possible counselors, I think it make good sense to help find a solution.

'What the World Need Now, Is Love Sweet Love' sang Dione Warwick. Where love existed originally, never let it die down. Keep it alive, always, because there is too little real love today.


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