Saturday, February 28, 2009

Leaders Who Follow

We are all leaders in different areas of our lives. As husbands we are required to provide leadership in the marriage. As parents we must guide our children in their upbringing. As employees, in whichever position, we must recognize that our position requires us to lead those below our ranks. And as senior members of corporations and governments our leadership expectation is even more critical, demanding and crucial. Yet there is a lack of good and strong leaders worldwide.

Why is it that people with good leadership skills are afraid to offer strong visionary and moral leadership? Is it because they fear challenges and avoid risks of failures after tasting the good life? I don't think so.

Or is it they fear they do not have a good support team? That is a negative trait of real leadership because good leaders inspire confidence and draw capable professionals to his side. Or do they rather lack the confidence that they have the ability and moral will to change and improve a poor working culture? Perhaps so.

Or has the ideals of true leadership become thrashed and beaten by the temptation of financial rewards and power control leadership position bring? Realistically so.

Good leaders stand out as people with the determination to right a wrong. They are visionary and realistic but demanding. They are team players and build unity rather than sow discord, restore hope and help the people rediscover their common direction and strength. Good leaders put people first, always. And good leaders are selfless, incorruptible and highly moral. Good leaders invites positive changes. They work hard, very hard and never give up.

Our biggest problem today is good leaders are very few in number. In world politics we have too many weak, incapable and selfish leaders that there are now so many domestic problems leading to uprisings and frequent change of governments. President Obama seems to be the exception when he inspires confidence and rally the other governments to help solve the many global problems on economy, terrorism, environment, national conflicts, etc.

In my country we too have many leaders in name only. They inherit powerful positions not by merit but by political affiliations and connection. Many have no idea what they are suppose to be leading, have no vision to lead. Instead they are tempted and blinded by greed and power that their positions avail them. Many have no professional qualifications, much less experience to make correct decisions.

Many of these so called leaders managed to keep their positions by following the wishes of their followers, which include dishing out cash rewards, business contracts and giving them political powers within their tribal territories. Such leaders have now become followers subjecting to the will of their supporters. They have sold their moral right as leaders because they know that if they impose their ideals on their supporters they will soon lose favours, and their leadership position in no time. So a wrong must stay wrong. Leadership has now become Followership.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Whatsup? Toll Up?

Yesterday the Works Minister Mohd Zin announced that toll rates for 5 highways will be increased from March 1. He said it was in the concessionaire agreements. He further said that it was postponed for 14 months during which the government had paid compensations to the operators. His announcement implied the government is either unable to continue compensating or unwilling to continue and that the motoring public must now bear the burden of additional toll.

The Minister was probably asleep for the past 12 months when the world plunged into recession and millions of employees were laid off. In Malaysia alone over 50,000 had lost their jobs and the number will double by year end. He was probably unaware that the ill advised fuel price hike last June cost Malaysians a hefty rise in cost of living which never fall much although fuel price today is now even lower than the pre-June 2008 level. By announcing toll hikes he is opening gateways for transport operators to justify increasing their rates besides forcing car owners to spend more on toll. All over the world prices of goods and services are tumbling. Here this Minister decides to go against the flow and has the audacity, and perhaps lack of intellectual clarity, to announce an increase in this essential service. Or is he the fall guy for the Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi who, with just over a month left in his tenure, wants the cabinet to review the annoucement so that, if this is called off, he can be crowned off as Mr. Caring? Clap, clap, clap.

I don't think Malaysians are amused nor want to be roped into this serious comedy. We want a serious-minded government who can think and plan rationally. This Toll episode really rank our BN government as highly amateurish and irresponsible. And a joke that we don't wish to be associated with.

With incoming PM, who is the current Finance Minister, Najib Razak, still mulling over details of his mini budget to be annnounced on March 10, may I suggest he include the ongoing toll compensations there? It is one way of helping people to spend less, or more accurately not spend more.

Updated 6.15pm today. Heard over the news that the cabinet decided to defer the toll hike to year end.

Kindly Looks

Children are good indicators of kindliness in adults. Although we may say it has to do with chemistry (which is a nice way of admitting that we really don't have the answer) kindly adult expressions, both facially and bodily, help children discern if they are safe enough to be friendly to. I guess you can call it survival skill of the young (but they are not yet skilled to understand that certain dogs can bite!). Proper child education require us to teach them to be weary of strangers without our consent.

Some adults do not have kindly looks and we should not fault them. After all we were born with the faces our parents gave us genetically. Adults can unknowingly display fierceness, seriousness or aggression on their faces or in their body language that children pick up easily. They cry or cringe away when approached by such adults. Smiling help soften the lack of welcome in such people.

My grandchildren trust only a limited number of adults, which is a good thing. They are all attracted to my wife because she has a kind grandmotherly look as well as non-aggressive ways of handling them. She does not reprimand them, scolds infrequently and almost never lose her cool except when very tired or very busy. Sometimes the older grandchildren will take advantage of her kindly nature. In years to come when they grow older I am sure they will adore this gentle po po and love her to bits.

I tend to wear a more serious expression, no thanks to my spectacles that made me more so. However, I made it up by talking to my grandchildren's hearts and minds and play with them as much as I can.

Geocounter Crosses 1000 Mark

Within 12 hours before I wrote this post, the geocounter landed 6 visits to cross the 1000 mark to 1004. The geocounter was installed after I installed the sitemeter and feedjit to track visitors to this blog. I love geocounter for displaying visits by countries. Although I am happy that my blog has attracted visitors from over 30 countries I hope that more will come from outside Malaysia. All trackers are serving me well but I love the feedjit for giving me a global snapshot of where my visitors come from. It is truly amazing that without any effort on my part apart from posting regularly people are finding my blog. Here's what it shows this morning:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Recession Spills Into Healthcare

At 11.30am today when I arrived at the Seremban Health Clinic which is government owned and operated to collect my medicine I was greeted by a hall full of patients waiting to see their doctors or, like me, collect their medicine. There were some 80 people ahead of me waiting so I found myself a spot and waited patiently for my turn. And penned this post.

The above scenario had been expected since it was reported that patients who used to seek private treatments are now going to government clinics which charge lower fees so that they may spend less. The impact of global recession that hit us late last year has now been felt in healthcare as well. Yesterday it was reported that 100,000 Malaysians are projected to lose their jobs by end of the year. This is 0.4% of the total population or about 2% of the working population. The number could be higher if the economy stimulus packages the government launch fail to trigger a revival of the job markets as businesses suffer from lower orders and poorer demand of their goods and services.

In such time, the golden rule of 'Saving for the Raining Day' certainly holds true. But many average wage earners may not have enough left to save for rainy days like now. Which is why when the government wants to reduce the mandatory employee's contribution to their retirement fund called the EPF to generate more disposable income, it was strongly opposed by both the contributors and their federation. Apparently, these workers do believe that rainy days will come so it is better to have their umbrellas ready in the form of adequate cash savings.

The Planner in Me

I like to keep things in order. I remember in my schooldays I would pack my schoolbag neatly, do all my homework in a timely manner. Even when I began working I would send money home to my parents routinely. I would also plan my finance to ensure I'd never be in debt for too long, that I have the ability to service my loans and provide for my children's further education.

Today I am free from many obligations of setting up a home and taking care of my children who are all grown up, married and working. But the planner in me keeps ticking. The desktop organizer on my PC helps me track birthdays, appointments, when my doctor's visit, meetings, haircut and grasscutting are due.

I put my planning skills into most areas of my life. For instance, in my work I must always work to a plan that I will review and modify as required. I am not inflexible but I am pragmatic and realistic. I am even ready to abandon a plan if it seems wrong. When I design my websites and blogs I must always have plans before me. I never work in a haphazard manner. Likewise when I leave the house I plan the routes to run my errands to save time and fuel.

My decision making, especially major ones, is always based on a series of planning. Recently when I decided to change car, my mind immediately set into motion the planning process of getting information, making comparison, performing test drives, reviewing options, seeking opinions and finally making my decision. When I run my charity work I also design a plan to guide it over the years. For every holiday I take it is always preceded with planning so I can get the most out of these vacations.

Good planning help me maximise my time usage, money spent and achieve the best efficiency. I am grateful to have a systematic ability to look at events, needs and possibilities and use my experience and knowledge to build credible programs to fit each situation. But then there are things I can never plan: I cannot plan if I am going to be sick or when I die. I cannot plan what will happen tomorrow nor how my finance will grow. These I have to leave to the Great Planner, to my God to whom I seek daily blessings and counsel to guide me for only He has the perfect plan for me and my family.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Changing Car ...

I have been driving the Toyota Camry 2.2 since August 1999. Over the years I was impressed by its reliability but as the car gets older it will start showing up some engine problems or the body will begin to deteriorate. Recently the radiator water almost dried up but the cause has been identified to be a faulty radiator cap. For a 9 year old car this faithful transporter of mine has done a lovely job for me and my family in the 193,000 km that I clocked to date. Although it can be used for many more years, I am being given the option of changing it so over the past week I read the specifications of the latest Camry 2.4V and the new Honda Accord 2.4L and took test drives to get a feel of how these 2 cars compare.

I had fallen in love with the new Camry 2.4V's look eversince its launch in 2007 I think. It is very sleek and I can be looking at it for years and will not get tired of it. Indeed, in my opinion, it is the most well designed Camry, better than my present car which, in 1999, was the best looker to me. I want a car that I will be proud to own so before I took my first test drive on a 2.4V, I had already given 90% vote to it and just 10% to the Accord, just in case there are surprises. The fact that I am a Camry driver for 9 years does make me a little biased but Honda has always earned my respect with its good looks and great engines.

In making my selection I also have to consider that it will be appropriate for an older person.

A few days after I test drove the Camry, I popped into a Honda showroom in town and test drove an Accord 2.0 since the 2.4 model was unavailable. Suddenly my preference shifted towards the Accord. The 2.0 model was very responsive, very driveable and very solid. I decided to give 60% to the Accord and 40% to the Camry, a reversal that surprised me since I am a faithful Camry lover. However, I needed to test drive the 2.4L to be sure and I managed to lay hand on one test car at another showroom. The sales advisor was very helpful and impartial. Unfortunately for Honda I found that I do not have a choice of leather seat color, it was only available in black which I dislike as it makes the interior dull and unimpressive. Furthermore the 2.4L do not have front bumper sensors that the Camry has. This is a very important feature as I am inclined to misjudge the front distance to the wall and had a few time scratched the front bumper. These two features demoted Accord's ranking substantially. After this second test drive I began rethinking about the Accord which is bumpier because of stiffer suspensions and noiser. As I am more of a comfort than a performance seeking person, the Camry will better fit my personality and driving style.

I made a comparison list of all the features of both models. Although the Accord came up top in areas like engine performance and little thing like USB connectivity for thumbdrive and MP3 player and extra side airbags, Camry won in looks, comfort, front and rear sensors and interior layout all of which matter greatly to me.

In a way choosing the Camry is confirming the Honda sales advisor's observation that the Honda is a younger person's car. An auto magazine also noted that a Mercedes driver prefers a Camry while a BMW driver will go for an Accord.

Later today I will give myself another test drive on the Camry 2.4V to help make my final decision. As of now it is back to 90% Camry, 10% Accord. Or should I change it to 95% Camry, 5% Accord since I am now much clearer on my choice.

Note: The illustration above is the 2009 Camry for the Australian market.

Update: I test drove the Camry 2.4V on 25th evening and decided to place an order.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Disappearing Vocabulary

Lately I find that my ability to recall words, events and names is becoming an effort. People said it is a normal deterioration as one gets older but I don't accept that as normal because many older people still remember well into their past, recall names easily and have a tremendous range of vocabulary to express their thoughts and views. I wonder if this is in their dietary choice, their lifestyle or in their genes. My mother can remember quite a lot even though she is 83 going on 84.

Senility, Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease are fearsome words. They speak of a person losing control of his life. Well, I am not saying I am going this way but one reason people write and blog is to keep their thoughts and views available for posterity. My problem is when I lie down to sleep and my mind think over a particular topic it can be very creative and words I want to describe those feeling come up easily. But when I sit down with a pen in hand, or before my PC my mind will freeze and words just don't flow as smoothly as I like. It is rather frustrating really.

Perhaps I am better than many people who cannot even string up a feeling or opinion in one sentence, but setting aside such comparison, what is worrying is the ability to write effectively yo-yo like the weather. Sometimes I can write satisfactorily sometimes I am just not in the mood. The same goes to my thinking process and the way I pray. When I give up I am only encouraging my brain to relax but I want to be agile intellectually for many years, and die with my brain still intact, and able to recognise faces and talk intelligently.

Battle of Political Will

Just over 2 weeks after Barisan Nasional (BN) wrestled control of Perak state government by dubious and highly unpopular means, the battleground has yet to see a winner. In fact the battle for political control of the state has turned ugly, and it can spill over to the rest of the nation. Both the incumbent chief minister, Nizar, and the newly appointed one, Zambry, refused to bulge with each claiming their constitutional right to hold the position. Public opinion is largely with Nizar but BN is trying to change that. It is hard since the public felt there has been gross injustice and unfairness in the way BN came in, without a sure margin of victory.

Latest twist is the speaker of the state assembly, Sivakumar, had ruled Zambry and the 6 exco members he appointed in the new state cabinet to have violated the assembly's rules and used his power to suspend them from attending future assembly meetings for 18 and 12 months respectively. He will also bar the 3 Independents whom he ruled to have resigned from Pakatan Rakyat or PR and has therefore no business in attending the sittings. This was a strategic move and in one stroke 'got rid' of 10 members belonging to and friendly to BN and give a huge majority to PR. Sivakumar is a member of PR, the disposed state government. His power is very wide ranging and his latest ruling has created both a shift in the equation of who is leading in this power tussle as well as a sudden interest by UMNO to protect the monarchy, the institution they themselves brought down in 1993 by removing royal immunity and vested power. Now UMNO is seeking legal advice from a Queens Counsel from the UK. It reflect how desperate they have become to ensure no stone is left unturned to ensure that Zambry is entrenched as the chief minister.

In the meantime calls are being made that the ruler of Perak should reverse his previous order and get the state assembly dissolved for a fresh election to determine who should rightly rule the state. Ironically that was precisely what Nizar advised him to do and if this becomes the eventual route to resolve the impasse, all the bad blood and instability would have been unnecessary. Legal suits have been filed to declare the new BN government illegal. One senior member of PR was even threatened with death and live bullets were sent in a letter to him for saying that he may sue the rule of Perak for abusing his power to appoint the new government. The Malays especially UMNO youth are using the sultan to further their political agenda. It is hard for the sultan not to see through all these manipulations. All said, when happened in the past fortnight has made the political landscape in Perak very messy. I don't believe the sultan ever anticipated this 2 weeks ago when he swore in the new chief minister and later his cabinet.

The hidden agenda? It seems there are efforts made to destabilize the PR by encouraging party hopping or resignation using money or threats of character assassination. By legal and democratic ways, it is unlikely for BN to win back public support since they have not really made real changes to earn back their trust since the March 8, 2008 election flop. They have lost in 2 by-elections since. Another 2 are upcoming on April 7 and it will be interesting to watch how the voters respond. In the meantime do take note the following events that will shape the way the new prime minister, Najib Razak, will ascend his 'throne'.

1. Altantuya murder case will only be resolved in late April. It has dragged on for almost 2 years and one wonder why.
2. Abdullah Badawi will step down as UMNO president on March 31 and hand over the premiership of the nation to Najib on April 1. Some people are questioning if Abdullah will really relinquish the premiership as it is not a law that the UMNO president must be the prime minister. He may not relinquish it but stay on as the prime minister, but this is quite unlikely though possible.
3. Continuing pressue is being made to send Raja Petra Kamaruddin, the hugely popular political blogger, back to detention under the Internal Security Act.
4. A state assemblywoman of PR in Selangor, Elizabeth Wong, was forced to resign (as yet not accepted) because someone publicized nude pictures of her sleeping in her bedroom.
5. The PR chief minister of Selangor is under investigation for abuse of public funds which he denied.
6. By-elections in 1 state and 1 federal seat on April 7.

Reflection:

Stubbornness and pride are traits that can cause further upheavals if public opinions are ignored. Decisions made must be reviewed, even reversed to save the day. It is not a question of pride but wisdom that must be in a good leader's character. We all make mistakes and we are sometimes exploited without being made aware of that due to impartial information being given. In other words, we make decisions using information we have. And we also have our preferences. However, all these come to nought when we look at the larger picture. If our decisions affect just our private lives, so be it because the damages if any are contained within our lives. But when they affect the state, even the nation, we need to be very careful where we tread and how we decide. We must always think and decide in a global context. We can use our power and authority abusively or wisely. But we must always be guided by clear laws and good conscience that we have acted in the best interest of the people we represent. Using discretionary powers is not always the wisest move because it imply a degree of subjective reasoning. What if discretion, which cannot be questioned, lead the public to believe that the ruler is inclined towards a particular political coalition? That can be a very damaging effect on his reputation. Discretion must be used sparingly and with great caution and after obtaining advices from many people. I think the recent questioning of the ruler's judgment is not disrespectful. We all love our sultan but when we believe he has erred we cannot stand by and do nothing just out of respect. I believe if we really love someone our action include letting him know where he has done wrong. I believe that thousands of calls to him to review his decision cannot be wrong and he must, as his office dictates, act on such calls and consider their collective wisdom.

Granted that the Perak state constitution may be vague in the way certain clauses are interpreted, the logical approach is alway this:

When in doubt, refer to the people for they are the highest court of the land.

I really pray that the ruler will reflect and have the courage to let the people of Perak decide if they want BN or PR to be their government. It is after all the people who voted in their leaders and they must be the final decision makers should there be changes in the state leadership. This fluid and volatile state of affair must be resolved without delay.

Parting word:
It is rude, isn't it, for someone to barge into your office or house without permission? Worse, if that person begin to take over your belongings and position or ownership. Malaysian politics is not very civil. But we have to change that by voting out those politicians whose behaviour and attitude we cannot condone.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Disappearing Radiator Water

The past 2 days I monitored my car radiator reserve tank and noticed the water level decreased a little daily. I dug into my knowledge of the design of automotive engines and their cooling systems to understand how they work. Radiator water can disappear in the following ways:

1. Evaporation via a loose cap.
2. Break in one of the radiator hoses.
3. Crack or leak in the radiator casing or evaporator grille
4. Break in the engine gasket lining.
5. Faulty water pump

Last night I had the fearful thought that the jerky morning engine startup I experienced lately was not due to aging engine (it is nearing 10 years) but slow seepage of water into the engine oil compartment via a broken gasket. The emulsion created by water mixing with the engine oil will change its viscosity and other properties that will upset engine performance and safety.

This morning I took the car to see David, my auto service provider. His technician checked the engine oil and announced that it was clean and normal. That was a relief, which means possibility #4 is out. He also inspected the hoses and radiator. Also OK which ruled out #2 and 3. That leaves #1 and 5. David was blunt to say that he has no confidence opening up my Camry's engine and referred me to another repairer who knows. However, before I decide to go I have my rear tyres replaced as they have reached the end of their thread life. In the process of carrying out wheel alignment, a technician checked the radiator cap and discovered that the locking spring and attached sealing ring had broken and fallen inside the radiator. Part of which could not be retrieved and had probably been pushed into the cooling ducts. It may even find their way towards the water pump. I was horrified that they may damage it. I immediately authorized David to flush out the radiator to locate the offending pieces.

After the job was done, the missing pieces stayed missing. They might be stuck somewhere and could not be dislodged. The only option left is to observe if the radiator water level is constant or continue to drop over the next few days. If it drops I will have to send the car to another 'doctor'.

I am not complaining as anything that is growing old will be problematic here and there. Just like we humans do. However, the car may have overheard that I am replacing it soon so got a little hurt? Possible? I don't know. Cars may not have feelings but after being driven by the same driver day in and out for years, it is possible that they may just sense a change of owner and decide to behave erratically just to protest.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Holiday at Home

Strange that I should be blogging this, isn't it since holiday is associated with getting away from home? The truth is we often treat our homes and our surroundings with nothing more than places to put down our heads to sleep, to eat or watch television. But having made that choice to buy a house, decorated it and made it as comfortable as possible to live, shouldn't we go a step further to make our homes holiday homes too? By this I mean a place beyond daily living, but a place that we can add on recreation, laughter, memories.

10 years ago when my wife and I decided to buy a house that is not linked and crowded, we decided in Rasah Kemayan, Seremban and chose a small bungalow lot with land. Some people have said that when you are old you should choose a small house with an even smaller garden because you will not be able to upkeep them. That is logical argument but does not lend a strong case of sweet living. I really see living in a spacious place a reward. Why, after all, do we still live in crowded and cramped down houses if we can afford to do otherwise? Not that I am very wealthy, which if I am I will surely build a mansion of 10 rooms, 8 baths and a swimming pool as well as a garage for 6 cars. That is not what I mean. A holiday home is not necessarily big but conveniently sized to allow its occupants freedom to move around without touching elbows. Having said that I regretted my kitchen was not designed to be bigger, and the rooms could have been more spacious. But the strength of my house is the big dining hall and the front garden, both bigger than usual.

My grandchildren have been treating our house as holiday homes. I've noticed that when they are here they sleep later, mess up more and are happy (I am not saying they are not happy in their own homes). They are subconsciously on holiday. So I thought I should remind myself to appreciate my very own home as a place to be in holiday mood more often.

This morning I awoke to sounds of chirpy birds and barking dogs. I can treat them as nuisance or wakeup calls. I decided on the latter. The fact that I can awake to a natural surrounding filled with happy sounds is a blessing many cannot enjoy. For that I am thankful to be where I am.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Fun of Designing Your Own Holiday

The first time I did this was in 1999 when I worked our UK self-drive holiday before attending our daughter's graduation in Sheffield. It was a family holiday and a time to relish even now, 10 years later. I searched the Internet for places to stay and visit. It was quite fulfilling to learn stuffs that were in the domain of holiday planners and that I too can do it. You can read all about it as well as other holiday journals inside this blog.

Then in 2006 I built a travel itinerary for our holiday in New Zealand. It was made possible because there were almost no packaged tours there (or none that I know of). People had been telling me that the best way to sightsee NZ was to self drive, and that means construct my own itineraries again. I did just that, and again the Internet was a tremendous resource to get ideas, information and contacts, this time the choices were greater with Google making searching easier and more accurate. Unlike buying readymade tours, designing your own means spending time scouring for materials. The satisfaction is that you are the boss. Comparision: buying a readymade house or designing your own. The beauty of designing your own holiday is twofold:

1. It is likely to be cheaper since you don't pay travel agency any profits.
2. You get to go where you want and see what you like at your own time and pace.

For our NZ holiday, I got both and was a holiday that ranked among my best.

In 2007 I went to Kuching on a free and easy package and stayed at the Harbor View Hotel right by the Sarawak River. I also planned our own itineraries for the 4 days we went there. Again it satisfied me very much, being 'king' of what I did. Plus we were on our own without unfamiliar guests in our group.

Last year we visited Bangkok also on the F&E style. We met some people in the same tour but did not get exactly what we wanted. Joining local tours as a group has a disadvantage in that the tour guide has to consider the overall interests of the group. Sometimes he will also insert some shopping stops so he can earn some commissions. In term of satisfaction, it ranked behind NZ and Kuching.

Coming April, we will be doing something rather different. I've bought the air tickets. My son had booked the hotel. And jointly we are looking at engaging a private tour guide to drive us around Bali. It is going to be just 3 days but what a packed itinerary we will have! At this moment I have a good feeling of one of the guides who responded to my email enquiry. He is working out a very customized itinerary for us. And the rates are simply amazing!

Although there are many tours into Bali that I can buy, I want this to be uniquely special. Partly because I always hold the feeling that I may never step on the soil of a foreign land I've visited a second time. I believe after this I may not go Bali again so I'd like this to be the best. The design is ongoing but with knowledge and excitement in the air I am quite sure that all of us, my wife, son and daughter-in-law and I, will have a lovely time together on this island of dreams, and unforgettable sunsets.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Car Engine Nearly Overheated

I was worried when I saw the needle on the temperature gauge of my car's dashboard creeping up quickly as I approach my house this morning. While I know the gauge had been faulty for sometime (not registering the correct temperature) it has never crept so dangerously high. I was really glad that I could drive the car into the garage. Experience taught me to never, never try to open the radiator lid in such a circumstance, so I let it cool for almost 3 hours. I was really relieved to discover the water level in the radiator had dropped dangerously low, and that I had to pour in 3 litres of water to top it up. Now my main worry is whether for that brief moment the temperature shot up had the engine gasket been burned to cause water to seep into the engine compartment. A visit to my mechanic will be made soon.

I really thank God for rescuing me from a potential breakdown and mechanical failure that can be costly to repair.

1000 Hits!

This morning the sitemeter registered my 1000th hit. Honestly I started with zero when I launched this blog on 14th August 2008 (exactly 6 months ago) and although I did not get as many visitors as I want, I am nonetheless very happy that it has global reach. Looking at the GeoCounter that I set up later, I think my blog are now read by visitors from over 30 countries. Not bad for a blog that is not heavily promoted.

Oh, I Don't Like Waking Early on Sundays!

Who does? Sundays are for lazing around and doing nothing. But I have to get up extra early today because I have to be in church, like most Sundays. But today I am leading the service so had to be there 10 minutes earlier to finalize details like who takes care of which part of the service proper.

Normally I just wear my smart tee shirts to church on Sundays, but when I am serving I need to be a little different, like wearing long sleeved shirt with a tie. Very occasionally I'd wear my jacket but I feel uncomfortable as it appear too formal. I prefer casualness over formality anytime.

I did not sleep well last night, maybe I was anxious over something but my mind was restless. I think I only fall asleep about 2am. That is bad for my health but I seldom sleep before midnight, it is like my biological clock has tuned my body to retire then. Even if I tried to sleep earlier I would inviarably toss and turn. Maybe I ate to much and too late. I need to watch that unhealthy habit and stop munching after 9pm so my body get the idea that it has to rest soon. There are still Chinese New Year goodies to finish off. Sigh! Too wasteful to throw or feed the dog.

After church I was happy to receive a donation cheque for PBSNS from the Tai Chi Association in Seremban. It was a good entry into their list of beneficiaries so that we can count on them to sponsor us in future.

The Bali holiday planning is really keeping me active. Maybe it is because of this that my mind was restless last night. It is my nature to try to source as much information as I can after launching into a project so that I can plan meaningfully and wisely. Although April is some 50 days away, I believe it is better to be well prepared early. Does the saying, 'The early bird catches the worm' ring a bell?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Getting Nearer to Bali, Indonesia

I did not regret not booking the Aston Bali earlier, not that it is not a good resort to stay but waiting did bring about a better deal, the Le Meridien Nirvana Golf and Spa resort in Tanah Lot, Bali. From the website and rave guest reviews I believe it will be a memorable place to stay come this April. My only misgiving is that it does not have a beachfront but hey, do I prefer dipping myself in its sparkling pools or in the sea? But I do believe that if we want we can definitely go to the Legian or Kuta beaches nearby to swim.

This morning I managed to buy 4 tickets at promotion price from MAS while Julian booked 2 rooms at the Le Meridien. All we need now is to fill up the 3 days with local tours and enjoying the splendid sunset view and first class facilities in the resort.

My Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is supposedly for the young and hopeful so what has today got to do with me? If you say that love is not bounded by age but that love grows stronger by the years, and sweeter as it matures like wine, then VD is even more meaningful for old folks like me. It is a day to profess my love to my wife, just as we do on our wedding anniversaries, our birthdays, every day. But Valentine's Day is specially set aside for all lovers of the world to commit their love to each other. How much the world need love and not war.

But today I spend my Valentine's Day without my dear wife. She was called to a greater duty of helping out with our daughter whose son developed bronchiolitis and had to be hospitalized for observation. That is more important than to spend time with me, which is nearly every other day of the year. But being alone at home is not something I relish, not without my wife of 36 years. But she did say she'd make up for her absence. I asked how? She said wait and see.

Love should not necessarily demand physical presence but love from a distance is sometimes more romantic and sweet. Absence make the heart grows fonder is so true to me today. But to my readers who is more fortunate, I wish you a warm and embracing evening with your loved one. Cheers!

Friday, February 13, 2009

How to Keep Your Blood Pressure Down

If you have children, play with them. Enter their world of laughter and fun. Enjoy their innocence and bask in their joy and antics.

Today I laid on my dining floor while my grand daughter played over me, sitting on my tummy and climbing over me, giggling and laughing away. She thought it was a game whenever I yelped as she sat on my stomach. I savored every second and felt a total absence of any pressure. I think my BP went down quite a bit then.

The best thing I felt was the happiness of being inside the little world of that little girl. I could not remember if I behaved that same way when I was very young but as a universal trait I think I too was playful, mischievous and totally trusting. I am glad to rediscover how happy children can be and to be a part of that feeling. I will never make a child sad if I can help it.

On Off Hot Deals at Air Asia

Yesterday about 4pm I found this great deal at the 5 star Bali Aston.


The same deal has suddenly become this today:


Barely 18 hours difference between the two and the deal had become grossly unattractive because Air Asia promotional airfares for the flights I selected had been removed although Aston Bali kept its rates. Signing up for a holiday package nowaday is a challenge if you want to get a good deal. I want this Bali holiday to be a memorable one so not paying through our nose will certainly help.

I suppose with many airline competing for limited number of customers especially in this year of recession, continual promotion to popular holiday destinations is becoming standard practices. Promotions no longer confine to once or twice a year travel fair like the MATTA Fair that is coming up from March 13 - 15. MAS has come up with its own travel fair from Feb 10 - 19 to shortcut interested travelers to their deals. This has not stopped Air Asia from rivalling with their own promotions that are ongoing.

Gone were the days when price and itinerary were fixed. Today we can choose all sorts of combinations, from independent travelling to full packages and airlines and travel agents are enticing travelers to book quickly with low or zero fare for limited seats and limited travel windows. Today fuel surcharges to some destinations have been totally removed, or in some cases reduced. Free and easy promotions with hotels and sometimes car rental companies help bring good deals to the travelers but they have to be decisive and prompt. In the experience I shared above, it means that I probably won't go to Aston Bali, not because of affordability but because I really believe I can get equivalent or better deals staying elsewhere. After all a holiday is about enjoying the places you visit, not only the rooms you stay.

Bali won't go away. It is the process of getting there, the money we put up to get there and stay there that makes preparation both frustrating and exciting. Since we will be traveling only early April we still have time to scout around for good fare and accommodation. MATTA Fair awaits if by then I have not concluded anything.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My Favorite Desktop Wallpaper

I love scenery and this is one of the best that I love. Please click to download the enlarge version. Thanks to whoever that posted it on the Net to share. It will display magnificently on your notebook.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thank You, Abdullah Badawi

For whatever incompetence credited to him, we should thank him for giving us more space to express our pent up feelings these 4 years without fear of prosecution. He made us more accountable to our national future by bringing our expectations out rather than keep them within us. This new found power will not be taken away from us. People power has always been the weapon to befall a corrupt government. Abdullah Badawi has unconsciously helped us decide on the quality of our political leadership.

He will soon leave us as our 5th prime minister and be succeeded by Najib Razak. Thank you for making us all politically more sensitive and aware so that we can provide better checks on the government of the day. For all your shortcomings, you did this just right!

The Politically Awaken Malaysians

Forget the tourism billboards that portray Malaysians as nice people. Yes and no. We are nice when not provoked or driven into a corner. But when we feels threatened by injustice we can be a real animal, like a chained Rottweiler.

In the past 2 years or so I noticed that Malaysians are provoked easily to street protests and rallies against socially unjust causes. It has become our culture to express our disapproval publicly whereas before we would just grumble and got on with life. Not now, not ever. Last year we had the BERSIH and HINDRAF rallies that made the police and the federal reserve unit (FRU) come out in full force to contain these protests and made the 'necessary' arrests. At other occasions, residents have also came out to protest against pollution, closure of roads, toll increases, inflations, demolition of religious buildings, etc holding placards, banners, and shouting to get the attention of passerbys. When people protest they must have justifiable reasons. Every protest carry signs and signals of unrest. When normally peace loving Malaysians are brought to such a level it means we are not well as a nation. You agree when you see protests in Bangkok, Manila, Jakarta, London, etc when they are angry over government policies or their inactions. People do not protest without reasons.

Protests mean the government has not managed the nation to our satisfaction. It means the people's interests and welfare are not being addressed. It means that the people want the government to know that they are unhappy and want actions to be taken to solve their problems.

I believe I am not alone in wanting the government to administer with responsibility and competency. Take every issue raised and deal with them until solutions are found. Do not wait or ignore them. Politics raise up the government but when in government, stop politiking further and start governing!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What A Mess

Barisan has created a real mess for itself this time. Taking over Perak by force, although Najib claimed it to be constitutional, is only bringing him tonnes of new problems that he will live to regret.

First, he has alienated the people. By bulldozing his superior machinery into the serene state of Perak and gunning down the Pakatan government, he did not realize that the Perakians did not agree with his method, however right he may claim. Perakians are nice people. I know because I am one. Najib's action alienated me.

Second, he has to address all the ongoing projects and policies the Pakatan state government instituted or are about to implement. Is he going to overturn them? And further anger the people who will benefit from them? I think he never thought of this.

Third, he believed that he has bought the support of the 3 Independents. He should have realized that 2 are being charged for corruption and may be convicted and thereby losing their state seats, which will lead to new by elections, which will almost go to the Pakatan judging by the very negative sentiments his power grab has created. The Hee lady who jumped ship from DAP is clearly bargaining for position and money and definitely not anyone's favorite person right now! How these three can be of any help to BN I fail to understand. In fact they are real liabilities if I may say so! Be careful that they be defect back!

Fourth, Najib never expected the PAS MP of Bukit Gantang to die yesterday. It has created an even nastier mess for him. The fresh by election that must be called within 60 days will be a nice welcome to Putrajaya present for him. It is an almost forgone conclusion that the election will go back to PAS, perhaps with a landslide majority this time!

Fifth, how is the Exco lineup coming along? Having trouble naming all ten? Getting the various racial groups represented? How does this Hee lady pair up to legitimate representatives from your component parties, i.e. MCA, Gerakan and MIC even if they did not win any state seats in March last year?

Sixth, I don't know how the Altantuya case is going to conclude. I hope it will not bring up new surprises.

At this time I don't thing anyone of us want to be in Najib's shoes.

We Need to Be More Politically Involved

In this recent post I said that we are all to be blamed for allowing an incompetent and corrupt government to be reigning over us (not in these exact words but the sentiment is the same). I must confess that I was politically blissfully could-not-care-less (or tidak apa in the Malay language) since I was able to vote some 40+ years ago until the Internet brought along political blogs to my PC. I must thank Jeff Ooi for his Screenshots blog that opened up my eyes to the usefulness of blogs. Malaysia Today introduced me to the political world of my country and the many issues we face with the government of the day. I suddenly realized that we are having people who were (and are) using their political positions to enrich themselves. They paid their followers to prop up their positions. I was both amused and interested. I wanted to be informed so that I was not left out when I was with friends or at a dinner table sharing current events.

Then came the 12th general election on March 8, 2008. I had on January 31, 2008 bought a Dell Vostro 1400 notebook (extremely pleased with it) and about 2 weeks later set up a wireless connection with the help of Stanley, my son-in-law. I confess I was conservative about installing a wireless router but I felt no need until then.

On the night of March 8, both Stanley and I set up our notebooks and wirelessly connected to websites that reported live the results of the election as they came in. It was one of the most exciting moments in my life, like watching a football game or at the grandstand of a Formula 1 race (both of which I have no interest really). It was like looking down with both horror and zeal how the Barisan government was being hammered or demolished in several safe constituencies. In that few hours I realized the power of blogs and how they, with information and rumours, can ensnare the thinking of internet savvy citizens. I also realized how much we have been kept in the dark about the real situations in our Malaysian politics. From that moment I decided to spend daily hours keeping track of what goes on in my beloved country through online news and political blogs. Today I would dive daily into Malaysian Insider and subscribe to Malaysiakini as well as check on popular social blogs like Dr Hsu's Forum and RockyBru for breakfast, lunch and dinner, sometimes even supper!

I believe I am a lot more politically aware now than pre-March 8, 2008. I believe that I can vote more intelligently hereafter (well, I voted intelligently on March 8 too, having received the early benefits of reading the many blogs a few months before).

The one thing I am grateful, that the Barisan government realised too late and probably annoyed with even now, is how caustic and toxic the Internet is to them. The blogosphere created free flow of information that they wanted to suppress all these years. Now that this technology is universally available, together with the mobile communication technology, every political party in this country must really work to earn the trust of the voters. Previously they can expect to win votes by giving cash and doing favours (which may still work among the less educated and in the rural areas). Now the voters have better arsenals and up to date information to make their decisions. I am grateful that technology is actually helping us transform the political landscape of this country. Help to get rid of incompetent, corrupt and irresponsible parties and politicians. Hopefully in the near future there will be available databases of all candidates vying for the political ladders so that we can vote with both our eyes open and our brains informed.

For the sake of our future, voters in Malaysia must not be gullible or ignorant. We all must be more politically involved because our future depends on making correct choices. I certainly cannot agree with one remark I heard in February 2008 just before the election, 'No difference lah. I am not going to vote, Wasting time.' Well, attitude like this will not help elect the right candidate into office. I hope you are not like that!

An Interesting Chap Goh Meh

Yesterday was the last day of the Chinese New Year which is always celebrated over a 15 days period. On this 15th day that the Hokkiens called Chap Goh Meh, literally '15th night', it coincided with a public holiday, the Hindus' Thaipusam that actually fell on Sunday the 8th but being a weekend, the following day was declared a public holiday, so we all had an extra day off.

My wife and I decided to bake a cake. It is something we do occasionally when there are no grand children around. We're not into baking as a hobby but we thought it is good to clean out the fridge that is filled to the brim with all sorts of foodstuff. Plus the fact that I'd like to have something different for my breakfast (I ate the cake we baked yesterday for this morning's breakfast and I liked it). It was a simple cake with margarine, sugar, eggs and self raising flour with a dash of vanilla essence the only ingredients. I did the weighing and mixing while my wife did the oven preps and baking.

Earlier in the morning yesterday I went out to pay the assessments of our house and land. I had to be sure the local council did not made a mistake of collecting the dues from the clubhouse near to where I live as it was a holiday yesterday, but the council staff were there and many residents were ahead of me queuing up for their turns. I remarked to the attending staff that they are getting overtime pay for working on a public holiday. He laughed, obviously happy for the extra income. However he also said that it was also for more residents, many of whom are working, to show up to pay their dues, which was true.

The New Year must end on a high note, so the television stations aired several CNY pre-recorded concerts and I recorded them for later viewing. I loved my Pioneer DVD recorder I bought in August 2006. It gave me greater freedom of deciding when to watch my favorite shows. Plus I can save them to DVDs if I like to keep them.

During the day I learned that a member of parliament in Perak collapsed in the morning and died of heart attack. That means a by election. What a development! Before the constitutional controversy is resolved, the people of the Bukit Gantang constituency is given a timely opportunity to affirm their choice of whether they support the out-stripped Pakatan government or the in-roaded Barisan government. I honestly believed this is divine intervention. Incidentally, the guy who died was a PAS man, a component party in the Pakatan coalition. He won with a 1500+ votes majority on March 8, 2008. Will the voters of Bukit Gantang vote the new Pakatan candidate in with a bigger majority or choose the Barisan instead? It will be an interesting development to watch.

Further north of Perak, in the state of Kedah, another power play is boiling. A Pakatan state assemblyman resigned because of a scandal and a by election will also be called. Was that engineered to force him out so that the Pakatan state government is also weakened like what happened last week in Perak? Only time will tell.

What is happening to Hee Yit Foong, the lady who betrayed and angered her constituents of Jelapang, Perak by leaving her party and becoming an Independent who openly supports the Barisan government? Her decision helped topple the state government of which she was recently the Deputy House Speaker. Why the dissatisfaction only she knows. Despite angry protests and signature campaign asking that she resign, she showed no remorse over her unethical and apparently greedy decision. The latest on the blogosphere? She will get her Exco position as well as a government car, a Toyota Camry! It was a dream come true for her. It seemed that all the while she had fought for power, position and perhaps pecuniary gains. Who knows if the speculations going round that those Independents who helped gave Barisan the victory last week were given millions of ringgits were true or not. I guess that is secondary and immaterial now because the potitical future of these Independents is just as well buried. Worse, they can be investigated and tried for taking politcal money. If money was really given, perhaps they can spend the rest of their lives enjoying it, in good or bad conscience.

To end the CNY we had our dinner out. We had wanted to celebrate in a Western restaurant in a new location, the Era Square, a new nightspot in town. Sadly we did not find one so we went back to our regular seafood restaurant, Laut Song. The boss wife just came back from her confinement. Carrying her 45+ days baby daughter, she went around taking orders cheerfully. This is her second child, the older being also a girl. I think that with so many baby girls born among those couples that I know, more than boys, statistically in the coming decade or so there will surely be an imbalance of gender.

Last night we enjoyed a very round and large moon sitting low in a cloudless sky. A Chinese newspaper reported that this is also the brighest full moon in the past 52 years. A penumbral eclipse also occurred last night for 4 hours from 8.38pm. It was not very obvious to me because the moon was just glowing but still round.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Politics and Public Service

The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary gave the following definition of a Politican:

1. a person experienced in the art or science of government ; especially : one actively engaged in conducting the business of a government
2. a: a person engaged in party politics as a profession
2. b: a person primarily interested in political office for selfish or other narrow usually short-sighted reasons.

It also defined Public Service as:

1: the business of supplying a commodity (as electricity or gas) or service (as transportation) to any or all members of a community
2: a service rendered in the public interest
3: governmental employment ; especially : civil service

The recent Perak power grab reveal the serious defectiveness of our political system. It is just not acceptable for one party to just take over a state whatever the reason given. Politics is like a business. Politicians are the providers, the voters the consumers. Between them is the offer of choice and the election is like signing the sales contract. The voters accept the promise of services by a particular group of politicians.

In the event of a default, the voters has the right to terminate the contract and select another provider. Unless they appoint an agent to decide on their behalf.

The Perak Power Grab is a very rude and crude way of forcing the consumers to accept another provider without being given the choice to accept. Why this is happening is due to a serious underlying disease, which is that of political dominance. I believe our politicians subscribe to the definition in 2b above. They have no interest in serving the public, if they do so it is an eyewash to justify their positions, or to show that they are doing their job. I am not saying that there are no professional politicians, those who enter politics to serve the public as defined in 2a above. I believe that they are a very rare breed here and they tend to be overwhelmed, overshadowed or even overcome by the corrupt, selfish, power crazy politicians that they are absorbed into their fold. This problem is not only in my country but quite global. However, it does not means that it is acceptable here. The people has to make a decision.

Why this is happening is mainly the fault of the voting public. They have allowed these politicians to hoodwink them with sweet deals and empty promises. By their lackadiasical attitudes, they prefer to allow mediocre politicians to decide their future in the country. By and large, people choose politics as their career to become rich. Very few chose it to help the people. That is the sad culture here and this invited the wrong people to join the government. We are therefore placing the future of our nation into the wrong hands. They have no genuine interest of the people except to drop pennies after lining their own pockets first. Or build some monumental infrastructures to boast of their achievements. Or gloss over historically good performance and not plan for a future fraught with danger. Or continually weakening its people by not preparing them for greater challenges ahead so that they stay relevant and in control.

I have lives through all 51 years of our independence and I was proud of some achievements. They were mainly monumental that has no lasting value. Demolish them we can build new ones. It is only money and skills and we have both. But what I am ashamed and worried of is the deterioration of racial relations, weakening of our zeal to be among the best in the world but being contented to be not last, inward looking and not recognizing and preserving our best talents. In other word, we have lost in the battle of forging a strong racial relation and strengthening our people skills. We are good in planning and talking. Not very good in showing real results. Other nations have surged ahead of us but we are still in our make belief world that all is alright.

We really need to overhaul our political system. We need to find a new service provider who can deliver the services and good we need to make us competitive and strong again. But what choices do we have? It is really our fault that for the past 30 years or so we did not encourage strong oppositions to provide check and balance. Our children and their children may not inherit a strong nation. Nation building takes several generations of careful and consistent implementation of wise policies made. If our forefather had set a direction we need to stay on track making only minor adjustments. It is suicidal to tear down and rebuild a new direction on a fresh but untested foundation. Our history is young and we are in very turbulent time with leadership that does not look far into the future.

What is our vision? Where are our goals? Yes, we have the Vision 2020 but are we realising them? By how much? What are the revised plans to enable us to keep on track? How are the people engaged to own the vision and to collectively see that they come to fruition in their lifetime? I really don't know if I will be alive in 11 years. We seems to be in severe denial over any problems we face. Last year the government denied that we will be in recession this year. This year we are seeing strong signs that we will plunge into recession soon like many stronger economies. It is just not surprising to be there yet we pull wool over our eyes in the face of impending disaster. This is poor leadership. We do not have a government that connects with the people, respect the people, strengthen the people.

We have good laws, good policies. But we do not have good implementers. Politicians who fail to translate good government policies into action and work for their success for the overall good of the nation do not deserve our vote. Perhaps they do not even know that this is their responsibility. That is really the voters fault isn't it? That means you and I, the voting Malaysians. The time has come for people serious to bring about positive changes to the nation to rise up and become professional politicians for the survival of our country.

Our 36th Wedding Anniversary

36 years to this exact date my wife married me at the civil registry in Lumut, Perak which is in my hometown of Kampong Koh, some 10 miles away. The ceremony was simple and was witnessed by both our mothers.

Our journey since then had been one of happiness and marital peace that I will not want to change. My wife has been a wonderful person that has no comparison. Like any good wife and mother, she always place herself last. I can say that I am blessed to have been loved more by her than I have loved her. But on this special day I blog this lady who made my life what it is and gave our 3 children and our grand children the kind of love that is irreplaceable. On this day I pray that God will give her continuing good health, positive spirit, joy and contentment, and a close walk with God. And I want to reaffirm that I love my wife dearly and to pledge my love in the Christian vow that until death do us part. Happy 36th anniversary, Ma.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Next Scenario in Perak

The following reaction from a reader in Malaysiakini's Feb 7 Vox Populi column crystallized the deep frustrations and anger over the Perak power grab:

Disgruntled Young Man: I am deeply disappointed by the decision of Sultan Azlan Shah not to dissolve the state assembly to pave way for a snap election.

I have great respect for the royal institution. I thought I could count on the rulers of the land to make wise decisions for the benefit of the people; it seems that I have misplaced my faith in royalty.

As for the power coup by Barisan Nasional, this is the only conclusion I can arrive to - BN bought PR members over with all necessary means, and it really shows how dirty Malaysian politics really is.

I am sure such dirty tactics were employed in the past, way before I was born, but to see it with my own eyes, it pains me very much.

We may have survived for the past 50 years, but I don't think we can for the next, with such despicable and low-blow politics.

Should BN successfully take control of the Perak state government, I would have no faith in such a government, simply because it has no mandate from the rakyat.

No. I don't think I can count on them, because Malaysian history says so and the younger generations are all products of such a history.

If the people, especially the Perak folks, have no say in this ridiculous political sandiwara, then I don't think there is any more hope for this country.


The damage has been done, the injury has been inflicted but what will happen in the coming days in Perak and the rest of the country will reset the political battlefield. In 4 years a new generation of voters will hand the right to govern to the coalition party that have earned their trust in exercising fairness, professionalism and competency in running the nation. I am not confident the BN will have that honour. They have consistently dissappoint. I am a senior person and I have voted BN all my life and I will not vote for them if they will not want to transform their culture and get rid of their arrogance and high handedness. I don't want a re-branding, I want a re-birth. After 11 months it has not made serious attempts to change and I do not think they ever will. When they are beaten they made promises to change. But as soon as they sense their strength returning they forget and become their old self, or worst, even more revengeful and selfish. I believe they are at this stage of their reversal. Promises and money cannot buy one's trust nor earn one's loyalty. That sadly, is what BN is only good at. They have not been listening to the angry reactions from the public such as the one above.

So we now have 2 chief ministers in Perak. One who refuses to step down because he does not believe he is legally removed, the other appointed by 'brute force' (my humble apologies to HRH Sultan of Perak because I believe the BN had made use of his authority to swear in the new chief minister). The turmoil will end but the new state government will not enjoy the trust of the people who will reject all attempts to woo them back.

There will be fresh defections and new elections may have to be called if defections are to Pakatan Rakyat. What mockery it will then be when all that was popularly appealed was to send the decision back to the people? I always believe that when it doubt get back to the source. The people of Perak is the ultimate authority to pick their government. Not the sultan, not the politicians. I hope that this principle will be honoured by our political masters and never attempt to usurp a right to rule. A cute Cantonese expression that I like to use is this:

Hai leh ke jao hai lei ke
Um hai leh ke jao um hai leh ke

Translated it means 'What is yours will be yours, what is not yours will never be yours'. The right to rule must be earned and never forced because the people is the absolute boss of any government.

Friday, February 06, 2009

New BN Chief Minister Sworn In

Well, Hee Yit Foong did not have the courage or was unable to confess her mistake, neither did any of the other 2 independents, so they were collectively liable for what has just taken place. I also think they are able to live with their guilty conscience for the rest of their lives.

Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir of UMNO is now the new Menteri Besar of Perak despite much protests, pleadings and resistance. Throughout the blogophere, the mood was one of disappointment and anger over Tuanku Sultan of Perak decision. Why wasn't a re-election called when BN never had a clear majority but simply verbal assurances from the 3 independents? Independents do not owe allegiance to anyone but themselves. In this instance they are power brokers and have surely benefitted from their role. The truth of why a fresh election was not called may never be known but the very unhappy Pakatan Rakyat now threatens to sue the Sultan and the Barisan government, which is within their right to do so as they felt injured by the injustice of the whole process. Somehow I get the feeling that being underdogs they are not been treated equally or with respect.

It will be a landmark test if PR really sue and wins. Meanwhile other court cases against the Election Commission for not calling by-elections following the 'resignation' of the two PKR assemblymen and the corruption cases against the same two assemblymen will add to an interesting development. It will test the judiciary independence of our courts.

Sadly the swearing in was marred by heavy protests at the palace in Kuala Kangsar. When people go to the extent of voicing their discontent publicly, it means something is not right. The new Perak government will have a rocky start and it will not augur well for Datuk Seri Najib Razak who will inherit (correction: he orchestrated) this problem when he takes on the premiership of the country late next month. Prophetically, the win in Perak may be the beginning of his defeat nationally.

In the meantime we expect to see more drama. Living in Malaysia is never dull.

Confess a Wrong to Restore a Right

Photo Credit: The Malaysian Insider

I woke up at 3.30am to blog this. I felt uneasy at how these four assemblymen had turned the politics of Perak upside down. I felt our Malaysian political system is very vulnerable to human emotion and greed. I hope that something will be done quickly to arrest its moral decline. It happened in Perak, so it can happen in other states.

I felt dismayed that many of the good work the PR government has instituted will soon become undone. Has these 4 history makers realised the damages they have caused? In particular Hee Yit Foong who might have undone what the new villagers set to enjoy free land titles? Had she thought about this when she tendered her resignation over a tiff with her political 'boss'? Did she realised the negative history she has made for herself and many poor people?

In moments of emotional outburst and anger we can make decisions that change the lives of others or the course of history. Before history is forever changed in less than 12 hours when the new Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) and the new BN state government is to be sworn in, at least one of them must come forward to confess his/her mistake and change his/her mind so that the balance of power between PR and BN in the state legislature of Perak can be restored for the current MB to call for it to be dissolved, and force the sultan to consent to it.

History is about to be made, but it is also about to be revised, if there is humility and political will from those concerned to listen to their conscience. As I blog this they are all asleep, some perhaps fitfully. Perhaps in the morning one or more will be convicted to announce that he/she wishes to withdraw his/her resignation.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

PR, Let Go Gentlemanly

The turn of events signify the victory for BN. Anytime now the sultan will swear in the new BN led state government even as we read of a last minute appeal by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the de facto leader of PR. The sultan is unlikely to change his mind. Or should I rephrase it as NEVER going to change his mind. Instead of inciting their members and other members of the public to a rally tonight, my advice is GO QUIETLY, Lift your head high, Go as a gentleman.

The people will remember the way you leave without causing any trouble. Come the next election we will know how to decide.

It's a Death Knell for BN

Well, the sultan of Perak has decreed that the PR led government should resign, something that a host of caring and concerned citizens and I are up against. I don't understand why is this happening but I feel that this BN victory is not going to last long. I believe that it will be a death knell for it. By usurping power the way it is doing, it is incurring the wrath of many people. And they will certainly take their anger to the next poll, be it by-election, state election or worst, the next general election.

I have read of many blogs that opposes the way BN is conducting itself, not a single blog supports it. Someone surmised that the sultan was under pressure to decide for BN. The next 48 hours will unveil the state of affair for Perak. I just pray that there will be no unrest.

Have a Heart, BN! Don't be Power Crazy!

It seems that the BN government has gone beserk, pushing very hard to take over the state of Perak. With a slim majority of 'BN friendly' independents, which I cannot even believe to be true since they can swing either way, BN's optimism is an illusion. Let's study the background of these 4 independents:

2 are under investigation. If they are found guilty, they lose their seats so what become of BN's majority? 1 swung from UMNO to PR and then swung back. Can he be trusted not to swing again? The last, a lady who acted out of emotion, cannot be trusted to keep her political ideals. Formerly a DAP, can she be trusted to accept BN's manifestoes?

I hate the way the political scenes are shifting. The sultan is deciding, the political parties are cajoling. Seems that there are too much power play here and I think the people of Perak are left out without a voice. Are they not entitled to be heard via a snap election?

BN should snap out of its power crazy run. It will drive the people against them, as Tengku Razaleigh, a very senior UMNO veteran leader, argued and I agreed completely. Step out of the picture and allow the sultan room to think fairly and objectively. If a unity government is to be formed I doubt it will augur well as both BN and PR have not been seen to be matured to work together for the good of the state, or even the nation.

May level heads rule the day for the state of Perak, as well as for the country.

Politics is About Public Service

Stop behaving like little children!

Over the past 2 weeks we have read of defections and resignation in a slim majority Pakatan Rakyat run state government of Perak. These state assemblymen who could not behave like responsible adults and live by the rules of the parties they were elected from, now hold the trump cards that will decide which of the coalition parties, Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat, will get to run the state government.

PR wants the state assembly to be dissolved since it has a deadlock of 28 members each from each side with 3 previously from PR now resigned to become independents and friendlier to BN. On that score, BN wants the sultan of Perak, Azlan Shah, to hand over the rein over to them.

These independent assemblymen are now controlling the future of the state government and the sultan is at this time deciding on the best course of action because what he decides will determine what comes next:

a. BN to take over the state of Perak or
b. Dissolve the state assembly, call for fresh election to let the people of Perak to decide which coalition party to control the state.

In my opinion, BN is trying to steal the state of Perak through a weakened PR and handing over the state to them is not the wisest of decision. I hope the honorable sultan agrees with this view, if he believes the ultimate decision lies with the people of the state. It was after all they who decided to pick the 4* now independent assemblymen to the respective parties on March 8, 2008, that gave PR the majority to run Perak. They must now be given the choice to decide, after 11 months of performance by the PR government, if they should continue or return the rein to BN.

Politics is all about public service. Whoever that serves the public better should be given the right to run.

* 2 of them are under investigation for bribery taking. They are from Keadilan, the major component party of PR. They left PR angry for being 'sacked' for being missing for 5 days and fueling rumours that they had defected, forcing the PR to reveal their pre-signed 'resignation' letters which they disagreed. Court hearing will begin on Feb 10.
1 of them was from DAP, a component party of PR, who was dissatisfied with state party leadership. She too was missing for many days, also fueling rumour of defection. As a politician she too ought to know better than to stay out of touch.
1 of them was from UMNO who about 2 weeks ago defected to PR and suddenly yesterday decided to return to UMNO. Questions are being asked why the about turn. Where are his political principles?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

My Home State Government Totters

Today, even I recovers from my flu I read with dismay the political instability of my home state government. Previously ruled by the incumbent coalition party, the Barisan Nasional or BN, it was lost to the opposition front called the Pakatan Rakyat or PR in the March 8, 2008 national election. Today I read news of resignations by some of the state assemblymen as well as a rejoining back of one who has just a week ago defected to PR.

As I blog this, both BN and PR has 28 seats each in the state assembly with 3 (formerly from PR) who resigned to become independents. BN claimed these independents are friendly to them and may even join them in the near future. The chief minister is in audience with the state ruler, the sultan, to seek his consent to dissolve the state assembly and call for fresh state election. On the other hand, the BN is going to ask the sultan to instead let BN take over the state from PR. The final decision now lies in the hand of the sultan, Azlan Shah, who was once the Lord President of the Malaysian Judiciary, a highly respected ruler. I believe his wisdom and impartiality in this matter will be greatly sought.

Below is a 'blow-by-blow' account of what transpired today captured from Malaysiakini.com. Click for enlarged version.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

My Little Angel

She is my granddaughter no.2 who at 15+ months in this photo taken exactly a monthly ago, she melts my heart with her cheeky smile. In the one month period since that time she has matured by leaps and bounds. Now she babbles her own sentences and eat what we eat, is agile with her hands and loves the outdoor. She is nearly able to run now and is quite independent at home. I wonder what she can do on her 2nd birthday!

Grace bonds very well with her parents and my wife and I. Most evenings she goes back to sleep with her mummy and papa who stays 5 minutes drive away. The following morning she comes back to us for daycare. It was a good arrangement.

Sniffling, Aching and Sneezing

Signs of an impending flu which I really hate because if I don't watch them I will end up with a bad cough that can take 2 weeks or more to clear up. My wife said they were caused by my nibbling too much New Year cookies and prawn crackers. They are really heaty and as a cure she boiled Korean ginseng root drink for me to take. Aside from that I also down paracetamol to numb my body ache. I joked that with so many cases of Chikunya fever I may have been infected which I hope not!

I stayed home to rest, but not before going out to pick up my reading glass. I'm pleased with the prescription. I can see the words very well some 12 inches away. I took the opportunity to get the opthamologist check my wife's eyes. The results were great. She does not have signs of cataract or glaucoma. She does not have macular degeneration like I have which means her eyes are healthier than mine. She only have astigmatism that affect her focussing on small objects and text.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Back to Office

After a 10 days break I am back to my office writing this post. Time flies and 1/12th of 2009 has just gone. In less than 2 months we will be welcoming the 2nd homecoming of Julian and Winnie. They first came back as a couple in 2006 when they met up with many family members who have not seen them for years. This time the itinerary I've worked for them will be less rushed. As fast as January left us I'm certain we will be seeing Julian and Winnie soon enough.

The office is quiet as as expected but not because of the absence of orders. It is perhaps due to the orderliness of the work process that has made office work routine. I am told that we are in a recession proof business which I am glad. Even as many other industries such electronic, travel and branded products businesses are suffering the whiplash of the financial crisis started 2 years ago by the subprime collapse in the United States, the glove industry stayed above the fray because in healthcare there is no compromise. Being a regulated product also help keep the orders up.

I am basically an optimist. I am optimistic that if we know how to take shelter and wait out we will emerge nearly unscathed, or with bearable losses. People says the next few months are going to be really bad. If we can see Najib Razak take over the premiership of the nation from Abdullah Badawi end of March with minimal fuss then we may not suffer a major impact. Otherwise we may be in for a rough ride. I pray that God will keep our nation politically wise, matured and stable.

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