Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Man Called Chin Peng

This man of 85 years old has been stirring the emotions of Malaysians, especially those who want to politicize his desire to return to his homeland. Currently Chin Peng is exiled in Thailand. Google his name and you will know that he was a communist leader in the 1950s. Go to Wikipedia to read more of his past as I don’t want to repeat what can be more eloquently written elsewhere.

My concern is how a simple request to come back to see his surviving relatives, live a peaceable life, select a burial plot and later to die with dignity in the presence of family and friends (or those who share his person but not his ideology). All of us own a place on mother Earth and each of us has a piece of sky over our head. As human beings we enjoy our birthright to exercise our presence on earth in ways we believe are right, although others may not agree.

Chin Peng came from my home town of Sitiawan but I did not know him at all. Perhaps my late father and grandfather did but they never condemn him or spoke about him to me. My only association with his family is via one of his sons who was my schoolmate. We never talked about politics at all.

I look upon Chin Peng as a man, a human being first, a Chinese next. I try to empathize with him and put myself in his shoes. It is lonely to be away from home. If you are young, and you are resourceful, you can survive anywhere in the world. But when times catches up with you and your bones are not as strong and your mind not as alert and your eyes failing, you’d want to move into maintenance mode. You’d want to find a place comfortable and where you have familiar people of your own kind, especially long lost family members close by. We all want to belong and more so in our dying days, to know that our mistakes are forgiven, that we are loved and that we will get a decent burial.

I ask this to those who oppose his appeal to return. Walk in his shoes, forget his communist label. He cannot revive the communist movement today, it is irrelevant and he has neither strength nor drive to do so. He is 85 years old, well past the average earthly age for a man today. Anytime he can expect to die and I think he just want to die in the country he was born in and to be buried in Malaysian soil. I’d think this is what his family also wants, to have their father and grandfather back home instead of buried in Thailand.

I am neither Chin Peng nor his fan but I believe my thoughts are his thoughts. It is sad and lonely to die away from your country, in a strange bed without close relatives to see you go. This, I think is just reason to show our compassionate self to allow Chin Peng his last wish. I ask the Malaysian authorities to show their human side and forget about his past. It is also time to put aside any differences, grievances or hatred. We all must learn to forgive and forget. Doing so shall make each of us a better human being. But if continue to hate a man for his past deeds, then unforgiveness will eat up our conscience and we will be no better than animals.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Shopping Madness

I think you can only get this in Malaysia and some Asian cities, shoppers who abandon all plans so that they can get to the mall early to get the best bargains, recession nothwithstanding. Just over a week ago we received a flyer from Jusco Seremban 2 near where I live that there will be a Fiesta sale today only for J Card (house loyalty card) members from 9am to 11pm tonight. The flyer said that there will be many items on sale, from clothings to food items.

A few days ago I had planned to go this morning, to be there between 9.00-9.30am, just to see what we can buy that we really need. My wife and I thought it will be nice to have our roti telur breakfast at the mamak shop next to Jusco... Moments before we leave the house I received a text message from our daughter that she and hubby are at the shop and it was crowded. She surmised many customers were thinking like us, eat and shop. Immediately we changed our plan: have our breakfast at home before we drive to Jusco, that way we cut back some unnecessary waiting.

When we arrived at Jusco's carpark at 9.40am or thereabout, we were greeted by a FREE PARKING TODAY sign. The open carpark appeared full so I drove to the covered carpark on the 1st floor. The main crowd hasn't arrived yet. So far everything went well. However the moment we stepped inside the Jusco department store we saw madness. I think 90% of the shoppers there were ladies and they were milling around the carts promoting clothings at heavy discounts. While I took care of my grand-daughter Ling, my wife hunted for suitable clothwears. With the kind of crowd and long queue at the checkouts we decided it is not worth buying anything today since the price of the items my wife was interested in was not exactly giveaway. We dislike the idea that our time is being controlled by the crowd mentality. I'd rather shop with a smaller crowd and lesser hassle.

At the supermarket we faced the same scenario. Shoppers were buying like there is going to be a curfew or a food shortage! Shopping carts were filled to the brim and checkouts filled with long queues of eager J card customers. I guess Jusco is going to rake in more than RM1 million in sales today, a real fiesta for them as well. My wife picked a few food items and then watching the long lines of buyers at the cashiers we decided to put the goods back and return to our car.

Although the trip to Jusco was a failure in a sense we did not get anything (except 2 pieces of fish tempura that Ling loves) I was not exactly dismayed as I was in control of my time and my priorities. My wife cleverly remarked that another sales will be coming in a week's time when we celebrate the king's birthday. In Malaysia, sales is a year round affair. Offers prevail and it is up to us to pick our choices, if not at Jusco, it will be at Giant, or Tesco, or Store or any of the smaller mini markets in town.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Legacy of Love

This is the title of an article I'd recommend reading HERE. As a grandparent I can relate to much of what is written having the benefits of being a child and a parent before; so becoming a grandparent sort of completes the 'assignment' I have on earth. I became a 'datuk', Malay for grandfather as well as a title bestowed by a sultan or king to someone who had achieved a certain position in life, for community service or having some political influence. Well, I would rather be a natural datuk that no one can take away than one that comes with a gleaming medal badge and a sash as well as commitment to perform in public. I became a datuk in 2005 and although my grandchildren sometimes clamour for my attention and I have to make time for them, the pleasure of becoming accepted into their little worlds cannot be measured in ringgit and sen. I have to thank my children for given them to me to enjoy.

I remember when Victoria was born in 2005 I received congralulatory messages on my upgraded status. It was quite fun and prestigious really to find myself ahead of my friends and siblings. Actually I am still ahead of many of my ex-classmates, some of whom I met in a recent wedding dinner reunion, whose children are still unmarried or recently married. Then when Grace came along in 2007 and later William in 2008, I began taking my datukship more for granted. As family grow in size, it become more prosperous as the Chinese love to have it so. The traditional Chinese men want large families. The number of children and grandchildren, and if possible great-grandchildren, symbolises prosperity and happiness that has no comparison to material wealth. I would like to have many grandchildren but circumstance often decide how things turn out. My joy is that my grandchildren are pretty, handsome, smart and normal. I cannot thank God enough for such blessings. Recently as I watch Grace, who is under 2 years, piecing up a jigsaw puzzle meant for children above 2 and half years, I beamed with pride. And to listen to Victoria converse like a 5 year old when she just turned 4 speaks much about my daughter's parenting skill.

Watching children grow up before your eyes is an experience worth documenting. I want to write emails to my grandchildren about how I feel about them throughout their growing years. I have done so for Victoria and Grace, creating email accounts for them when they were a few months old. I want them to be reading what grandpa wrote when they are big enough to read. I'd do the same too for William and other grandkids as they come along. They are like private letters to each of them. As they grow older so do I and I want my letters to be a legacy for them.

How much can we ever love our grandchildren? I guess as much as we can do so physically and intellectually. We want to be able to guide them, be their playmates and encourage them to develop their skills, as well as be a refuge when they feel fear and uncertainties. I just want my grandchildren to grow up as responsible, caring, talented and positive-thinking adults and to know that I have a part in their character building would be immensely satisfying. This, I guess, is what any grandparent can do. To stand in the gap for their grandchildren and to complete their growing up years as good role models as well as imparting some wisdom.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The 40 Days Purpose Campaign

There was a lot of enthusiasm this morning when we arrived at church at 7.30am for the special service that will launch the 40 Days of Purpose Campaign in a fortnight. It took a little extra effort to wake up half hour earlier than usual, even as the alarm clock rang at 6.30am my brain refused to kick my body out of bed. Finally it took a warm bath to fully awaken myself to be in church in time.

The reason why pastor must start the service at 7.30am instead of the regular 8.00am is because we will be watching a video of the Rick Warren simulcast to help participating churches worldwide to launch this campaign. The video lasts 108 minutes and the service is timed to end in time for us to vacate the sanctuary for the Tamil service following ours.

The weather was great, the enthusiasm ran high, God is good and the service went extra smooth and everything was as planned. I believe many of us were touched by Rick Warren’s call to find out our real purposes in this life. He outlined the 5 purposes which are:

• To Worship God because we were created for His pleasure
• To be in Fellowship with fellow Christians because we are part of God’s family
• To be in Discipleship as Christians because we were created to be Christ-like
• To have a Ministry as we were shaped to serve God, and lastly,
• To Evangelize the Gospel because we were made for a Mission.

The campaign will start from June 7 and end 6 weeks later on July 19. Throughout this period the sermons will focus on detailed aspects of our purposes in this world. In our private time we are to read chapters of the Purpose Drive Life book as well as commit to small group discussion.

I believe that many lives will be changed and most certainly I hope mine will be impacted. I would like to be able to stand before God one day to give a good account of my time on earth.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Point Taken, Forget About Fasting

OK, the Court of Appeal reinstated Dr Zambry as the lawful mentri besar of Perak. Nizar and company will appeal to the highest court, the Federal Court, to resolve this pain in the a*** issue that has given much contents for reporters and bloggers to write and comment. So we should all wait and see how the end game play out. In the meantime, the sentiments of Perakians are mainly with Nizar so I believe it is not necessary to go overboard to dramatize their case by going on a 3 days fast. It can backfire.

Pakatan should learn to keep a winning streak without spoiling it through over-acting. Point taken, Nizar and Siva.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Victory That May Not Last

Today the Court of Appeal ruled that Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir of BN is the rightful mentri besar of Perak. On May 11, the High Court had ruled that Nizar Jamaluddin of Pakatan is the legitimate menteri besar. So who is right? When 2 sets of judges applying the same set of laws can come to different conclusions, one of whom (the High Court judge) had a 78 pages of written judgement to arrive at his decision, it mind boggles me how little of law and how much of personal interpretation is involved in determining the solution to the Perak controversy. I am not decrying the professionalism of the 3 appeal judges but I am waiting to read their reasoning for overturning the declaration of the High Court judge. It must be discouraging that this brave junior judge finds his verdict unanimously opposed by his senior brothers in the chamber. Ultimately it will not be for any judge to decide who win or lose Perak. The highest court is still the people whose perception is that BN has robbed Pakatan the lawful right to rule Perak. Sometimes it is not so much what the law says but what the hearts feel is right. That will be the final judgement.

One last avenue of appeal is allowed for Pakatan and that is to the Federal Court. Again I don't want to pre-empt the case but I will go on record to say that I do not believe it will be able to reverse what the appeal court decided today. Which means that Pakatan will have to depend on the court of the people to win their chance to re-rule Perak again. The underdog label will work in their favour.

It is actually a disadvantage for Barisan to win this appeal. The decision, no matter how right it may be, has further antagonised concerned Malaysians who believed that the Perak power grab should not have happened in the first place, but the ugly tug-of-war must be speedily resolved through fresh election. So why does Najib Tun Razak insist on a legal solution when he is fully aware that he cannot win the heart of the people when he wins the state, and he is not sure of winning their hearts if he give up the state? Now that Perak is his for the next 4 years, this period will be fully exploited by Pakatan to discredit BN not only in Perak but nationwide. It is like not containing a pandemic flu. I thought it would have been smarter for Najib to give in now and spend the next 4 years re-convincing the voters that BN deserve a fresh mandate. Now the power grab appear to have been sanctioned by the judiciary which will surely make many Malaysians take a stronger interest of their political future.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Vision Training

One of the major neglects all of us are guilty of is towards our eyes. Most of the time we think of wearing corrective glasses as the standard answer to correcting our poor vision. It is like downing a painkiller whenever we have a headache or feel a flu coming on. We believe in quick fixes.

I have been wearing glasses since 1963. Of late I began having blurred vision as a result of astigmatism. This is affecting my night vision to the point that I refuses to drive at night especially to unfamiliar places. It can be a risky outing if I made a mistake entering the wrong way or misjudging my distance. Worst still I may even miss a passing vehicle.

However, living with diminished vision is not an option I am willing to surrender to. I believe that I can salvage my eyesight, not through the usual method of changing glasses because I discover this method is not working satisfactorily. So I decided to check the Net for alternative solutions and I was surprised that it is POSSIBLE to heal my eyes through training them out of dependence on glasses. It require discipline and patience to train my eyes to regain their skills. From my readings, it seems wearing glasses is like putting clutches that prevent my eyes from overcoming their weaknesses. After wearing my glasses for over 45 years I am not fully confident that I can see clearly without them but it is a goal I am willing to attempt. It will be wonderful if I can walk and drive without glasses one day.

I have placed my order for the training materials and for the coming months I shall discipline myself to help my eyes regain their ability to focus without glasses. I am hoping for nothing short of a miracle.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Familiarity Breeds Assurance

Today I decide to change the popular phrase ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ to ‘familiarity breeds assurance’ in the light of growing fear that the influenza A (N1H1) virus continues to spread stealthily in spite of control measures being taken. Malaysia joined a growing list of nations (she became the 36th nation a few days ago) to report to the WHO that cases of this infection has been detected. So far 2 confirmed cases on a flight from Newark, NJ, USA have been reported. Flight crew and most of the other passengers are on quarantine. What is worrisome is this:

1. Many (reported to be 24) of the other passengers on the US flight failed to come forward to be voluntarily tested and quarantined. They, if infected, will surely pass on the virus to family members and others coming into close contact with them. This will create a devastating domino effect that is uncontrollable as there is no way to trace who and how the new victims are spreading the disease to.

2. A domestic flight was infected when a passenger from the inbound Newark flight flew to Penang, which caused the entire 101 passengers and crew members to be grounded and quarantined. Some of the NJ flight passengers would have taken other domestic flights or coaches home. Could they have compromised the safety of their fellow travelers?

As a stealth virus that spread without signs and symptoms, carriers of the A (H1N1) bug may appear and behave quite normally. This is a dangerous situation since there is no way anyone can take precautions except to wear face masks whenever outdoor and in the presence of strangers, or spend most of the time indoor and with family members. What this imply is that many of the outdoor recreational activities, shopping and marketing, dining out as well as patronizing fairs, seminars, exhibitions and going for holidays that include being in airports, flying in planes, sitting in coaches, and visiting unfamiliar places and milling with crowds of total strangers, will have to be carefully reconsidered or avoided if possible.

I may sound like a doom prophet but personally I am putting off any travel plans for now. If I dine out I will sit with a larger ‘safety’ zone, i.e. more air space and well ventilated. When I go shopping I will make it short and purposeful. In other word, I may sound paranoid but under the present circumstances, it is better to be assured by familiar environments than be unnecessarily exposed. Home is the best place to be in. One positive effect is that we get to spend more time with family members.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Face Not Worth Saving

I don't believe Najib Tun Razak ever expected the Perak constitutional crisis that he engineered in February this year to have developed to this point of deadlock where both his coalition and the Opposition have taken their cases to the courts for a resolution. The sultan of Perak have not stepped in to clean up the mess. So far popular opinions are of the view that Najib will suffer a crushing defeat if he allows the people of Perak to determine the legitimate state government if a fresh election is called. This will be an embarassing and damaging consequence to his leadership. His explanation that Barisan has a legitimate right to rule has not gone down well to the general public who felt the manner it was done was akin to that of a big bully tactic.

In his article in the Malaysianinsider HERE, Tunku Aziz wrote,

"The choice for the prime minister is a simple one: either elect to conduct himself like a common, opportunistic politician and face the dire consequences of his perfidious behaviour or a statesman who is concerned more with nation building on a lasting basis than opting for short-term political gains that may well turn out to be illusory. His 1 Malaysia, already riddled with contradictions and inconsistencies, will not amount to anything if the Perak crisis remains stuck in limbo. The ball is in his court."

Najib is now opening up to discuss the Perak deadlock with Anwar Ibrahim, the Opposition leader and set a condition that no conditions be put up. Throughout the past months the consistent call from the Opposition has been to dissolve the state assembly and call for a new election. This call has found massive support in every surveys conducted online, over radios and television. I don't believe Anwar will compromise on this and I also don't expect Najib to bow in to this condition as dissolving the assembly will be submitting to the wishes of the Opposition. Perhaps Najib wants to compromise with Anwar by asking the Opposition to let Barisan rule the state but with the Opposition taking up several key positions in the administration. If Anwar agrees (which I am sure will be met with angry objections from within his own coalition and the public) then it will be a betrayal and a sellout of the moral values that the people have been fighting all these months. If Anwar agrees it will spark off the demise of Pakatan. I believe the upcoming days will clear up the legitimacy of the menteri besar.

Scenario 1
Nizar is reaffirmed as the rightful MB, Barisan appeal lost, the state assembly is dissolved and fresh election held, and likely Pakatan will be swept back to victory.

Scenario 2
Zambry is declared the legitimate MB and Pakatan appeals disallowed. No dissolution will be called and the BN led state government runs its course till 2012/2013 when new election is called. In the meantime, pressure is applied by various activist groups to remind the nation of the unjust takeover which will impact the outcome of how Perakians vote then.

It is not worthwhile saving a badly damaged face that needs to be reconstructed surgically. Najib needs to clean up this ugly episode and build a new image. Better to lose a state now than lose the entire country at the next general election. I hope that Najib will be able to see through the harm the Perak fiasco has caused to his credibility and competency.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sitemeter hit 2000

Sitemeter registered this blog as having received its 2000th visitor today. It recorded its 1000th visitor on 15th February this year. Although the daily average was 11-12 it was nonetheless an increase from about 6-8 previously. If you are a regular please link this blog to your blog, if you write one, or come back often.

On 3rd March I decided to let ClustrMaps track my global visitors, to see from where they are coming from. It was almost 2 months and 10 days and the map here shows my visitors comes from every corner of the world. It is amazing how this is happening without any special efforts on my part. Thanks to my readers for dropping by. Please leave your comments so I know how to make my blog better.

Let My People Go

These were the words Moses said to the Pharaoh of Egypt when he went to see the king to ask him to release the Hebrews who had been living in bondage for 430 years as slaves. The Egyptians had gotten used to cheap labor (like we have gotten used to cheap foreign workers and maids) and were unwilling to accede to Moses’ request. What followed in the narration in the Book of Exodus chapters 5 to 11 showed how resistant the Pharaoh was even after his nation was threatened with plagues. Finally, God has to break his resistance by killing his first born son, the heir to the Egyptian throne. Only after that did the Pharaoh grudgingly released all the Hebrews, but days later ordered his army to chase after them in the hope of recapturing them and bringing them back to Egypt. The story of the Red Sea is quite will known to Sunday School children and those of us who have watched the movie ‘The Ten Commandments’ starring the late Charleston Heston as Moses would have been amazed by the cinematographic effect (amazing in the 1960s but unexciting in comparison to today’s computer animation special effects) of how the Red Sea parted to allow the Hebrews to cross but closed to drown the advancing Egyptian army.

I preface my blog with this episode from the Old Testament of the Bible to parallel what took place several thousand years ago to what is happening today in the Perak constitutional crisis. Although not of the same magnitude nor or the same conditions, yet it reveals a stark similarity of a sinful human nature, that of refusal to hear the voice of reason. The Pharaoh suffered great losses, including the death of his son, for disobeying the demand of Moses, to release the Hebrews. In the first place, the Hebrew were ‘guests’ when they came to Egypt when Joseph, a Hebrew, was prime minister of Egypt. The Pharaoh then had invited Joseph’s family to come stay in Egypt when there was a great drought affecting the Middle Eastern countries that did not anticipate it and therefore did not build up food reserves. This was in gratitude to Joseph who helped interpret the Pharaoh’s dream about the impending drought and helped him store up reserves. But as the Hebrew population grew, they became a threat to the Egyptians who then decided to suppress and control them. For that reason the Hebrews felt oppressed and wanted to leave.

Today the voice of reason is been shut out by Najib Tun Razak. He rejected all calls to agree to dissolve the state assembly of Perak. The voices are coming not only from the Pakatan opposition, blogging communities, but also from within his coalition, even senior politicians within his own party. The voices are also heard from non governmental organizations which are hurt by the 3 months stalemate. Perhaps many within UMNO are quietly rumbling for this fiasco to end. While there are no plagues, we are facing economic fallouts that affect businesses and investment opportunities. We are also facing ridicule and avoidance from the international community at the manner Najib handles this illegal power grab of Perak.

There is no Red Sea for Perakians to cross nor will there be armies to die, but Najib the ‘pharaoh’ must realize that sooner or later, the people will state their stand in a more demanding manner. If mere appeals are not going to work, then they may grow into street protests or passive resistance against the government.

Malaysians are generally passive and law abiding. But when an issue is burning up their conscience they may not accept things as there are. People power has not really been tested in Malaysia but the Perak issue may give Malaysians an opportunity. Before this happens may I appeal to Najib to 'Let My People Decide'.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Let's Bury May 13 for Good

If not for bloggers and online news portals writing about this ignominous event in the history of our nation I would have let it slip by without being aware of it. May 13 has been a constant reminder of how regressive our race relationship has become, how intolerant the various races have towards each other, and no wonder.

The culprit is in the government policies of dividing and rule. It is a fact that each race has its own strength and weakness. I shall not go into details as some remarks may be taken as racially sensitive and seditious. I don't want to go to jail for being this honest. It just show that for 51 years of independence we are not ready to confront the reality that we must live together under one roof and make the best of what we have, through sharing, respecting each other and building a great nation through our collective talents. The fragmented connection between the races is even more fractured today than before. We may have become more intellectual, more educated, more wealthy and more aware of our rights, but we have also become more selfish and more extreme in our thinking and speech and sadly, sometimes, actions.

Why we have degenerated this far I cannot accept. Maybe we have been politically naive to be this trusting for the past 20 years, maybe we really did not have a viable choice to tell the government that we did not like the way they handled our national affairs, maybe we were too selfish looking after our own lives instead of making small sacrifices for the nation. I really believe if the government had stressed and implemented concepts of fairness to the poor and under privileged irrespective of backgrounds, then we would have none of the extremisms we cultivated like weeds in our gardens today.

Revisiting May 13 without making a real effort to exorcise its ghost will not stop it from rearing its dangerous head to differentiate us further. To exorcise it we must be bold enough to confront it by openly discussing it and admitting the mistakes made, seeking forgiveness and moving on. For now, we are hiding, whispering and gossiping what really happened. The real truth is embedded somewhere and will never be revealed. Tomorrow it will be forgotten and then we will revisit the same topic ritually a year later. May 13 will become a topic we talk about without feelings. Sadly we would have failed to capture the impact and learn its lesson to help become a better people.

Are Malaysians matured to analyse in depth what are our poverty and our wealth? We admire how other developing nations have developed further and faster than us. We are embroiled in petty quarrels, such as the Perak power grab, which made us a joke internationally. The manner we go about resolving a fundamental issue is a reflection of how distracted we are from the core issue, that some of us are just too greedy to admit. Worse, the politicians have forgotten that they were put up on their pedestals by the citizens.

Our political leaders must really take several steps backward to look deep at themselves, at the real problems that all Malaysian face commonly, and then be determined enough to demolish them. We can because we are a nation of people who have made Malaysia a nation admired by many. Yet if we failed to stop tinkering with trivials and overlook the larger crises we are facing I am sure May 13 will never get buried, but will remain a living dead to haunt us and our children.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cracks within BN and UMNO

Subtle calls have been made by certain UMNO leaders, prominent among them a former state assemblyman, Tun Mahathir and Tengku Razaleigh to have a snap election in Perak to resolve the impasse that is wrecking not just the state government but also the federal government. Confidence from investors has touched new lows. The chairman of SUHAKAM, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, made the same call HERE. The Deputy Prime Minister is worried that the standoff is taking too long to resolve. Today MCA and Gerakan, two major component parties of Barisan, called for fresh polls. Yet, Najib Tun Razak, the commander-in-charge of the February 5 power grab insisted he wants the courts to decide who is to be the legitimate government. Obviously he is not listening. It is a bad sign for a leader not to sense dissension within his own party and coalition. More so voices are rising from the blogosphere demanding the state assembly to be dissolved. Feeling the heat, he started distancing from Dr Zambry when he said he will let him decide what to do next. Read HERE. I believe Dr Zamry wishes this nightmare to end right now, because his political career is dead, even if Barisan wins by the ruling of the courts.

There is even a sense of difference within the royal family, if news is to be believed, that the regent of Perak is sympathetic towards the Pakatan government. If it is to be believed too that he shook last the hand of Dr Zambry, the Barisan appointed mentri besar, after he gave the speech at the May 7 assembly meeting, which by protocol suggest he did not command the respect as MB, then what we are seeing is the beginning of a crack between Najib and the rest of his coalition. Surely there are many who support him but as a new UMNO president and new prime minister, the manner he handles the Perak crisis will demonstrate if he is flexing his muscles or willing to be flexible to quickly resolve this confrontation. Now is not the time to insist on being stubbornly right. No one is going to win, every one will lose, more so if Najib does not quickly agree with popular views and settle the issue promptly. The longer it drags, the more rope his give himself to hang, and the more popular Pakatan is going to get. Sadly today in Malaysiakini, it is reported HERE that he wants the courts to decide. He alluded to rule of law but the perception on the ground has been that he did not follow the rule of law when he captured Perak.

Go to the Highest Court

Even after the KL High Court ruled yesterday that Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin was the rightful mentri besar of Perak based on precedence, prime minister Najib Tun Razak did not have the grace nor the wisdom to concede defeat, that he had erred 3 months ago to grab control of the state government of Perak. The window of opportunity to save face was closed through his pride and thinking that he can influence the judiciary to rule for Barisan. He had the influence to fasttrack the appeal hearing, which he did. The Court of Appeal heard the case this morning at 11am when the sole appeal judge (I disagree that such an important hearing can be decided by one judge out of the usual three) Ramly Mohd Ali stayed yesterday's judgement thereby putting the entire controversy back to square one.

Meanwhile Nizar also fasttracked his request to the sultan of Perak to dissolve the state assembly. The sultan is presently oversea and his son, the regent Raja Nazrin deputizes for him. It is not clear if the regent has the authority to grant dissolution, if not the sultan must give his consent even if he is not physically present and cannot get back.

The ridiculous deadlock must not be allowed to continue. Najib is pitting one judge's verdict against another's. It is weakening the judiciary as well as our respect for it. Granted that in any democracy the right to appeal is given, it must not be abused. I cannot sincerely believe that the appeal judge did not read the judgement of the High Court judge thoroughly before deciding to allow the appeal. If he had disallowed the appeal this crazy nightmare would have ended on his table. Looks like it is deja vu once again!

Our judiciary is flawed because decisions of one or two cannot constitute what is right although they have the laws before them. The ultimate court to decide is overwhelmingly voted in cybersphere as the Court of the Voters of the State of Perak. The one person to facilitate this decision is none other than the former Lord President, the present sultan of Perak. I pray that he will redeem his honour as well as that of the monarchy by saying yes to Nizar's request.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Glimmer of Hope

For a moment I believe that the high court decision today will surely go the way of the Barisan installed government in Perak. I really believe that judgement will be colored by what took place last Thursday when Barisan successfully brought down the speaker of the assembly by physical force and installed one of their own. I believe that we will not have any hope that the Pakatan government will claw back but this afternoon I was proven wrong, and I was happy for the glimmer of hope when Justice Abdul Aziz Abd Rahim of the KL High Court proclaimed Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as the rightful Perak menteri besar and ordered Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir and his executive councillors to vacate office immediately.

Several questions remain unanswered:

1. Does this judgement means that the May 7 state assembly is null and void? That is to say that Sivakumar is still the speaker of the house?
2. Does it also means that everything that Dr Zambry did since he was installed by the sultan of Perak is legally not binding?
3. Is the sultan now 'forced' to listen to Nizar and dissolve the state assembly?

I hope the answers to them are Yes and I believe them to be correct then we will soon see sanity and order returning to Perak. And I hope Barisan will respect the order by the honorable justice. Of interest is whether the plan to auction off the official cars for the menteri besar and the exco members will now be cancelled. I believe one very troubled person is Hee Yit Foong, the ex-DAP assemblywoman who resigned to become an independent that triggered the whole Perak fiasco. For me and many Malaysians who believe in the spirit of democracy we rejoice that there is still hope that it will remain alive and well.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Today I take my mind off politics to reflect on a more honorable profession, which is that of motherhood. Since we are all born of a mother and a father (except Jesus Christ who was born of a mother and divine intervention, He did not have a natural earthly father), each of us should celebrate the roles our mothers had played, or continue to play, in our lives. Sadly some people cannot find the joy to celebrate MD because they cannot find a reason to be happy with their mothers. I just came off reading a blog HERE that saddens me. Obviously the writer was struggling with how to reconcile with his mother to justify celebrating MD with her. There must be many others like him in the same predicament. I wish that they will find reconciliation soon.

No human is perfect. We all make mistakes, most of us try our best to fulfil our roles. Sometimes pressures at work and at home can be detrimental to bringing up a happy family, and children suffer from the fallout of parent quarrels, problems and other crises. Sometimes we bring upon our children a set of standards and expectations that they cannot cope. Sometimes, we subconsciously allow the pressures we were exposed to in our own upbringing many years ago to impact our own children. Of course, peer pressures and views from other parents, neighbours, friends and colleagues can affect how we introduce values and discipline to our children. Motherhood, in fact I should say parenthood, is a tough role to play and any child who grows up thinking that his or her parent has been unreasonable should see the world through their eyes.

I have parents who gave me plenty of personal space and freedom from the time I could run off the house to the time I got married. My dad was the easier going of the two while my mother was the disciplinarian. I remember when I played truant or was caught stealing, I would be made to kneel, with my hands tied up, as a form of punishment. Today I reflect on these painful decisions of my mother without any anger because I felt I deserved the punishments. No mother would want to lay hands on her kids unless she was forced to and I respect all mothers who have to go harsh to bring up a morally upright child. I don't think mothers want to be popular with their kids by agreeing to all they do and ask. Saying 'No' must be a hard decision and yet mothers will do it for the wellbeing of her child.

My wife is the kind of woman many kids would love to call 'mom' or 'grandma'. She hardly has a temper and she would say 'Yes' 99% of the time. Yet she would not hesitate to raise her voice or lay her hands on a child's buttock if the child did obvious wrong. It was all to let the child understand right and wrong. In all she did, my wife is ever prepared to sacrifice her own health, personal growth and comfort to look after her children and grandchildren.

I believe for each of us who claims our mother is the best in the world, thousands more will claim the same. In our own eyes we see our mothers as examples of goodness and love. They personify what a loving world ought to be. I hope politicians will let some of this value flow into their jobs!

As I end this blog, I want to say this to my mother and my wife (I am also saying this personally to them): I love you and I wish you a very happy mother's day today and alway.

To all the mothers out there reading my post, whether you are young or old, I would like you to remember that you are instrumental with the creation of your children and you will be loved by them through your efforts. May you have a grand celebration, receive bouquet of nice flowers, or candies, or ice creams or anything you love. Most of all may you receive the sweet embraces from your children, grandchildren and husbands.

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

When the Sultan is Judged ...

I reproduce below the article from Malaysiakini written by Tunku Aziz entitled 'Only Perak Sultan Can Provide the Cure'. The emotion you gather as you read is quite representative of how many Malaysians are feeling right now. Some can articulate it, even fiercely; some will just shake their heads and almost feel that as a nation we had died on May 7. Read on to understand the frustration we feel and the great hope we have that the sultan will find within himself the strength, courage and humility to rise above royalty to reverse his earlier decision, for the good of the state of Perak, the nation and the institution of parliamentary democracy that was attacked that day.

I never for a moment thought I should live to see the day when a traditional hereditary ruler of a Malay state has taken such a rapid slide in his people’s estimation, approbation and adulation as has Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak.

It took one unfortunate, ill-conceived and ill-considered decision over a petition by the Pakatan Rakyat Mentri Besar Datuk Nizar Jamaluddin, to dissolve the Perak state assembly that has transformed Perak into a politically difficult and dangerous situation.

His Highness Sultan Azlan Shah is no ordinary ruler.

As a former Lord President and head of the Malaysian judiciary, he ascended the throne of Perak as someone well-qualified by education and training for what, for all practical purposes, is a largely ceremonial sinecure.

Be that as it may, the position carries a heavy constitutional responsibility.

It has become quite apparent that while his legal knowledge may be assumed to be extensive, his training more than adequate, his wisdom in dealing with a delicate and important political matter of public concern, on reflection, has in my humble opinion, turned out to be questionable.

A great deficiency in a ruler who showed so much early promise of being a wise, liberal-minded and benevolent leader.

When the final chapter of the Perak constitutional fiasco comes to be written, the country, and the world, will be able to revisit and understand better the magnitude of the debilitating effects of the royal decision on the Malaysian body politic.

A Greek tragedy pales by comparison
Malaysians, in particular, will view with horror the ugly scars left on their nation’s nascent democracy, and they will be constantly reminded how one hasty error of judgement was enough to trigger a political tragedy of the worst imaginable kind. A Greek tragedy pales by comparison.

The saddest part of all is that the resultant unseemly legal wrangling could have been avoided.
The fact that the flawed decision was not reversed, within a day or two when it became abundantly clear that the decision not to dissolve the assembly and call for fresh elections was manifestly unfair and unethical, was nothing if not sheer carelessness, in all the circumstances.
I maintain that even now it is not too late to reverse that politically fatal decision and bring to an end this disgraceful episode in the history of participatory representative government in our country.

There is no disgrace or humiliation in coming to terms with one’s honest mistake. No one, even the wisest among us, is infallible.

If the sultan believes, as we know he does passionately, that his royal duty is to serve the public interest, then NOW is the time to give that commitment practical effect.

The Perak fiasco is not about to run out of steam. We must accept that the situation will get worse before it gets better. I saw the images from the state assembly “sitting” on national television at lunch time today (May 7, 2009) with a sense of unbounded revulsion. The scene of warring politicians shouting invective was not a joy to behold.

The Perak affair is like a running sore
To use a medical analogy, the Perak affair will be a running sore. Only the sultan of Perak can provide an effective cure.

To ignore what is obviously an untenable constitutional position is an act of grave irresponsibility, and while the prime minister thinks it is a great idea for him to give the impression that he is above it all, I should like to remind him that he is not blameless, far from it.
It was his active act of muddying the Perak political waters that brought about this current crisis in the first place.

He now has a chance to show that he is not a partisan prime minister, but a national statesman who is prepared to intervene decisively to put matters right in fairness and equity.

Looking back, it was not such a clever personal coup after all. His machination was so abysmally repugnant even judged by the consistently low ethical and moral political standards of Umno/BN that I find myself wondering whether I could trust him enough to buy my next second-hand car from him; this is the same man trying to persuade us to buy his 1Malaysia. What a man! (With apologies to GB Shaw)

(Tunku Abdul Aziz, former head of Transparency International Malaysia, is vice-chairperson of DAP.)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Denial, the Root Cause of Failure

To be unable to face up to the truth is an obvious sign of impending failure. It is also a sign of pride and unwillingness to face up to reality. Sometimes it also reflect the belief that if one wishes it hard enough the problems may go away.

The Barisan government has been in denial for too many years. They have been avoiding the cry of dissent and display of frustrations and anger from the public. They try to justify their actions and decisions. For example, the deputy prime minister HERE refuses to accept the fact that it was Barisan that usurped the Perak state assembly yesterday. Rather he squarely laid the blame on the Pakatan assemblymen. Well, no one is a saint but among the 59 lawmakers present yesterday, the 31 BN and independent lawmakers were using their physical force to bundle away the Pakatan speaker after he refused to give up the chair, and literally imprisoned him inside a changing room when the regent of Perak, Raja Nazrin delivered his speech. I really wonder who were less saintly yesterday. If the DPM felt the event yesterday in Perak was 'annoying' he should rightfully refer to the misbehaviour of his own BN politicians and not Pakatans.

I am still waiting to find a top level Barisan leader who dare to openly admit his mistakes and take firm steps to rectify his errors. Barring such admissions continuing denial will only augur well for Pakatan opposition as they lay in waiting for the Barisan government to fall. It takes a good leader to recognise his flaws and errors. It takes a great leader to correct them to bring about positive changes and improvements. So far I have not seen one within the Barisan fold.

Unbelievable Coincidences

Yesterday the Perak state assembly saw the Barisan Nasional assemblypersons led by their leader, the mentri besar Dr Zambry Abdul Kazir, forced themselves into taking control of the assembly in a most uncivilised and illegal manner. They blatantly ignored the sanctity of the house and conveniently overlooked the rules the governed the proceeding of the assembly. Physically removing the speaker himself before he was even voted out was a crime in itself. The ensuing public outcry was too loud to be ignored. I did not read of any cyber comments or articles that even remotely support the blatant rape of the state assembly. Even an Umno leader, Datuk Mohd Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz, a former Pulau Manis state assemblyman in Pahang, the home state of the prime minister Najib Tun Razak has this to say:

The chaotic events in Perak yesterday was a shameful coup d’etat which could end in failure for the Barisan Nasional (BN).

He also said yesterday’s events may well tighten the noose around BN.


The Barisan state government should be ashamed of its actions which are most juvenile and unbecoming of elected politicians. Never in my 40 years as a registered voter did I see such barbaric behaviours by grown men and women from BN. They have set terrible examples for other younger politicians. In my mind they are worst that kids fighting over their toys.

Even before the infamous meeting yesterday I was suspicious as to why the Kuala Lumpur High Court will only deliver its verdict next Monday to determine whether Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin or Datuk Dr Zambry Abd Kadir is the rightful mentri besar of Perak. Why wait for the assembly meeting to be held first? Is the judge planning to be guided in his verdict by the outcome of the meeting? The coincidence is too coincident to be believable.

Today the Home minister announced that he will release 13 ISA detainees, among them 3 HINDRAF leaders. The timing caught everybody by surprise. The prime minister denies that his administration had been forced to free Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees today to counter the people’s negative perception towards yesterday’s chaotic Perak state assembly proceedings. He further said he has no hand in what happened in Ipoh yesterday. As UMNO president and the prime minister I find this statement totally amazing.

Too much coincidence? I see the entire show being masterminded to create fear as well as a sense of justice but the public and political analysts are too clever to be outsmarted by what took place as well as what is to come. The Najib government has lost its credibility even before it touches its 100th day by the manner and sincerity it handles the very sensitive political issues that he started 3 months ago. People are going about being cynical by whatever programmes the government is putting in place to save the nation from recession. We are learning to separate the person and the performance. Until Najib clears his name over the alleged crime associated to him, as well as starting to live up to his newly minted tagline, 1Malaysia, People First, Performance Now, nothing that he do will convince Malaysians that he is going to be a better prime minister than Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. For all Tun's weakness as the nation's top manager, at least he was a caring person who did not go round arresting people at the slightest instigation. And he did not have a baggage around his neck.

Before things worsen may I advise the PM to quickly repair all the harms that he and his people has done. Give Perakians the right to choose their government. If BN lose so be it, you never had Perak since March 8, 2008 in the first place. Abolish the ISA, free all detainees. Prove that you can tolerate dissent, other peoples opposing views. This is required of being a matured government. Get the police to serve the public instead of UMNO. They have allowed to many uncalled for deaths to take place.

In other words, prove to us that you deserve our respect and our votes. The hill BN is going to climb is steep and rough. This is the price BN will have to pay for allowing our confidence in BN to be eroded for the past 25 years or so. You have just 4 years or so to prove that you deserve to win the 13th general election. The recent by-election results were our way of telling you that you have much homework to do so don't take them too lightly.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Power Grab 2

As if overturning the Pakatan state government in February was not shameful enough, today we read of the incredible episode 2 of the power grab at the very state assembly that is supposed to demonstrate that democracy is still alive in Malaysia in general and Perak in particular. I was following the blow-by-blow account in Malaysiakini HERE and was astounded that the incumbent speaker Sivakumar who resisted being booted out by illegal means (legal by BN's definition, to them everything that fits them are legal) was physically removed from his speaker's chair. Read here the chronological development:

2.55pm: The same group of 'officials' escort Ganesan to the speaker's chair and the speaker then started chairing the sitting.

2.41pm: A group of men, some clad in jackets, grab hold of Sivakumar and forcibly remove him from the House. Sivakumar resists and shouts, "I am the legal speaker. Why am I being treated like this?" It cannot be ascertained if these were police personnel.

Pakatan reps try to shield him but more plainclothes men enter the House and manage to breakthrough the human barricade. At present, there are scores of plainclothes men wearing tags which read 'official' in the House.

Several Pakatan reps are also dragged out and the ensuing melee saw several flower pots being smashed.

2.35pm: Attempts by the sergeant-at-arms and state assembly staff to remove Sivakumar are being resisted by the speaker and Pakatan reps. Some other Pakatan assemblypersons are continuing with their attempts to eject BN speaker Ganesan from the house.

2.30pm: The situation is still chaotic in the house. The sergeant-at-arms is now trying to remove Sivakumar from the speaker's chair to allow Ganesan to assume the chair.

I am not proud to be a Perakian at this time. And I am extremely disappointed over the way Barisan Nasional under Najib's leadership support this power grab which will reaffirm the Perakians desire to ensure that such an event will not be repeated when the right to determine the new state government comes in 2013.

Puppet on a String

I really don't know what is going through his mind nowadays but Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir is very inconsistent. After fighting to remove the incumbent speaker of the Perak state assembly V. Sivakumar, he now says that he can live with an opposition speaker. Read HERE. Perhaps it is his strategy to divert attention from what will be his real motive today when the state assembly reconvenes under strong police presence to prevent any public gatherings around the building, or is he showing signs of backing out?

Dr Zambry was trusted into political limelight when he was chosen to be the BN appointed menteri besar after they successfully lured 3 opposition assemblypersons away from Pakatan. This reduced the majority control by Pakatan to a draw and the incumbent MB Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin was forced to ask the sultan of Perak to dissolve the state assembly, which is the rightly thing to do, since the 3 assemblypersons did not join Barisan but decided to remain as independents with a view 'to support BN', a condition akin to say that 'if conditions are right we will support you, otherwise we can change our loyalty for the right price'. The decision of the sultan to reject the request, in hindsight, was erroneous, as it has led to the present impasse and illwill. Tun Dr Mahathir admitted yesterday that the power grab was ill-timed and done in a hurry, and the president of the Senate, Tan Sri Dr Abdul Hamid Pawanteh, yesterday suggested that the Perakians must be given the choice to decide who should rule the state. Prime minister Najib Tun Razak must be deaf to this popular call or he is too proud to admit his mistake over the illegal power grab. Whatever, Zambry has found himself in the unenviable position of being puppetted by the Barisan (more precisely the UMNO) leadership. To decline the offer to be the menteri besar would have been a sign of disrespect for Najib as well as killing his political career. To accept, which he did, means that he has to toe the party line and concede whatever moral conscience he has to the pit and say words that he does not means or believe in. I wonder for how long this man can live in this world of pretense and remain a puppet on a string.

Politics is indeed a dirty game, even a profession. The Barisan and UMNO political culture has given politics a bad reputation.

As I prepare to post this blog, the Perak state assembly meeting is still at a standoff. Zambry and his 6 Exco councillors who were banned earlier by speaker Sivakumar refuse to leave the hall, shouting matches are taking place between BN and Pakatan assemblypersons. The sergeant-at-arms, sympathetic to BN, refuses to remove the 7 assemblypersons as instructed by the speaker. Indeed the entire processing is turning out to be a circus. The ringman is trying to tame the band of lions and tigers.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Containing the A (H1N1) Flu Virus

We watch the world reel from the attack of the A (H1N1) flu virus as they infect over 1200 people in 21 nations and killing 27 of its victims so far, 26 of whom in Mexico where it all began less than 2 weeks ago when the outbreak was reported. Mexico with 701 infection cases claims the outbreak has been contained. It has been stabilized. But over in the United States situations are still confusing and evolving. 286 people had been infected in 36 states as of now.

However, reactions worldwide are not unanimous with the WHO believing and warning that the flu pandemic is not over, that it is evolving and all nations must stay alert as it considers issuing the highest level 6 alert if the spread is not reliably contained.

In Egypt the government will cull some 300,000 pigs as a preventive measure amidst protests from the farms owners. China banned import of pigs and pork from Canada because a case was detected in the Alberta province. This unnerved the Canadian government who threatened to take China to the WTO. Schools in Mexico are closed to contain any spread of the disease. Air travelers reviewed, and some canceled their travel plans. Many people started wearing masks and using gloves. At their own level each country and each person will do what they can to avoid infection and contain the spread of this flu virus.

All the steps we take may or may not help the human race avoid this virus permanently. At best we send them into hiding, into a state of dormancy until it flares up again, which is very likely when conditions are favorable.

We have many enemies at our doors waiting to pounce on us when we are offguard. Every new disease we face demands new resources from within our body's defence system to protect us from becoming ill. The urgency to maintaining good health, balanced diet and stable relationship at home and in society is more critical than ever. The world must also get together to help the poorer nations over issues of public and personal hygiene, environmental management, food safety and other community issues that can help avoid another case or cases of pandemic. Clearly the A (H1N1) flu virus is not an accidental development. I believe it is a case of negligence, malpractice or ignorance. But will we ever know?

Underqualified Advisor

With due respect to Tun Abdullah Badawi who was appointed as advisor to MAS as reported HERE, I believe this appointment was made to ensure Tun has a regular income as well as a respectable position. Tun did not have any qualification running an airline, nor was he in that industry to be able to give his 2 sens worth to the MAS board. His appointment as advisor to Malaysian Islamic Understanding Institute (IKIM) makes more sense as he is known to be an Islamic scholar.

The practice of appointing advisors, be it in the government or in the private sector must always be guided by the requirement of living up to the title. Tun should decline the offer to be MAS advisor if he believes he is not qualified.

Why Sell the Camrys?

The installed new Perak government (yet to be legalized) led by Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir decided to sell off the 14 Toyota Camry 2.4V purchased in January this year by the Pakatan Rakyat state government before it was booted out by the February power grab that involved the sultan of Perak. The auction was however met with lukewarm response (read HERE).

My question is: why this immature action?

It is unbecoming of any incoming team to dismantle what was done by the previous government just because they don't want to be associated with it. Does sitting in the Camrys remind the new menteri besar and the executive councillors that they had been used before by the opposition politicians before? The cars are brand new, selling them involve efforts that could have been used more productively elsewhere. Chances are the sale will incur losses. The decision to auction smacks of childishness that is unbecoming. A rational and objective-minded leader will focus on getting the state government up running and bringing in the best benefits to the state, not on trivial issues like selling off state owned vehicles which to me seems unjustified.

Looking at the 2 rows of unused Camrys parked inside the state secretariat building carpark makes me feel that they are like adopted but rejected children. Camrys are good cars and I as a driver of two can vouch for that. The fact that it is the most popular Japanese executive model in the above 2 litre range in Malaysia also confirms this. So why the need to undo a good decision? Just because they were bought by the PR government?

Photo credit: theStar

Monday, May 04, 2009

Maid to Order

A few days back I posted 'Maid in Heaven' about the issues faced by employers over their expectations of the maids they seek to employ. Today I wish to amplify on how we can be frustrated, angered, disillusioned over the person who has become a member of the family and is expensive to terminate as well as creating a load of problems when she is asked to leave.

Firstly, the reason why I titled this post this way is to make light the very serious issue of what we expect from our maids. They are not made to order, like a suit from a tailor. Even that sometimes require adjustments so what when you buy a ready-made suit off the rack in a departmental store. If you happen to be a person with a well proportioned body, it will be easier finding clothings that fit you; otherwise your best bet is to have yours tailored made. The same reasoning apply to employers of maids.

Are you an easy-going person with realistic expectations? Do you empathise the situations your maid is in? Do you treat your maid as a human being with needs and feelings?

A lot of issues maid employers face arise not just because maids are lazy, untrustworthy, sickly, manipulative or unstable emotionally. Sometimes employers must face up to the fact that they are to be blamed for not sensing that maids perform better or worse because of how they are treated. Putting yourself in the place of the maid you employ and seeing how she is treated goes a long way to help build a stronger and healthier maid-boss relationship. Granted that there are really bad maids, but there are also good maids turned bad or disillusioned because they did not receive the rightful encouragement and dignity to carry out they work effectively and responsibly.

A maid employer is essentially a manager. A manager's strength is identifying his subordinate's capabilities and weaknesses and use the best means to optimise his performance through training, encouragement and reward. Sitting inside these approaches is the need to respect the maid as a person with needs. A maid took the difficult decision to leave the comfort of family, home and familiar community to travel to a foreign country to work because she needs the money. She is no different from a local person who comes to your office and ask if there is a vacancy for her to apply. But unlike the local person, a maid comes to you, both hoping for a good match. She has never met you, and you only know about her via biodata and a photo. You decide to employ her based on very flimsy information.

What was your first impression when you first set eye on her when you picked her up from the agency? How did you feel when she started work on the first day? If you are lucky, both of you will hit off wonderfully; otherwise you start the relationship with a prejudice. Which is sad because as the employer you have the upperhand to change things for the better. You can make your maid better by showing that you are a good boss to work for. Sure, there are bad maids who are dumb to all your attempts to help them grow into their jobs. In which case ask for a replacement or send her home.

The thing that can help make a relationship better and grow is not to over-expect your maid's capabilities. In the first place I disagree that maids should work non-stop for 7 days a week except to sleep at night. I believe maids should be given time to rest and not find extra work for her just because she is idle after the housework is done. Sometimes we suffer from a mentality that we own the maid but for just RM500 or so plus food thrown in, we are really asking for the skies! We ought to let the maid have own time, privacy and opportunity to cultivate whatever new skills she like. No wonder no locals want to work as stay-in domestic maids.

Some employers successfully kept their maids for many years. It cannot be that they were always lucky to have good maids. The secret is in the way they treat their maids who decided to stay on and have their contract renewed. On the other hands you also have abusive employers, like the Chinese lady in Kuala Lumpur who was jailed for maiming her maid. In between there are many employers who extract maximum off their maids without realising that that is going to hurt them later when the maids run away, do something to the employer's family or bring harm either to herself or arrange for burglars to plunder the employer's home.

Maids cannot be made to order like a suit but they can be trained, cared and loved to your expectations. Any human being will respond positively when given a dignity to serve. So if you have a 'bad' maid, ask first if you were contributory.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Politically Incorrect Swine Flu

Israel objected to calling it swine flu. Instead it was described as Mexican flu since it started from that country. That too has become politically incorrect so the WHO decreed that this pandemic be offically called the influenza A H1N1, which to me sounds really boring and a mouthful. I believe many of us will just get by with swine flu in the hope that we will not have to talk about it in a matter of a few weeks when the threat dissipates, hopefully.

In the mean time we have many advisories on what to do and not do to keep ourselves safe. US Vice President Joe Biden was quoted as telling folks not to fly. He should have told the reporters that it was off the record because it is damaging to the tripled whammied airline industry (but speculators in the stock market love this sort of remarks).

Personally I was glad that my Bali holiday has ended and that I did not buy any air tickets to go anywhere in the coming weeks or months. But in the local spots I regular frequent (City Park, shopping malls and church) I will take extra precaution to stay away from strangers (some of whom may also try to stay away from me) even if they don't cough or sneeze. I will still buy pork from the Fook Kee shop that sells clean and fresh raw pork because I don't believe that the swine flu can be spreaded through pork consumption. Anyway we cook them really well done so we should be safe.

Mmmm, we still have stocks of face masks we bought during the SARS outbreak a few years ago. If possible I don't want to wear them but at least if needed they are available. For now my safe practice is 'don't be adventurous. do your routine stuff and go home where it is the best place to be in any pandemic situation'.

Refreshing Viewpoints

I try not to step into the domain of race and religion that can be sensitive but since the controversy of the Perak power grab of February this year, and the criticism leveled at the sultan of Perak for his perceived unfairness in the handling of the matter, too many opinions have been expressed, debated and even a prominent opposition leader is being tried for treason for suggesting that the ruler can be brought to court, HERE are the views of a young but open-minded former mufti (Islamic scholar) of the state of Perlis in the northern part of peninsular Malaysia.

Mohamad Asri Zainul Abidin was quoted as suggesting "Citizens should have the right to criticise the Rulers. In Islam, there is no such thing as any person who is above criticism".

Thus far, in Malaysia, we are under threat not to say anything negative about our monarchs for fear of being thrown into jail. It seems they are above reproach, even above laws. I think this is morally wrong. Rulers and leaders are human and therefore prone to making mistakes. Even God allow his people to criticize Him (but not to curse) so what does that make mere men to be, gods in the flesh?

Modern society has open up free expressions as a way to go forward. Without criticisms we will never know if what we did or say was wrong. Criticisms give us feedbacks to improve, check our wrongdoings and provide a check and balance so that no one become blinded to the truth, or overly powerful and dictatorial. If majority of the populace disagree with you, what does that say of your decision? Collective wisdom is certainly a better bet that the right thing to do is to agree with them than stand stubbornly to your viewpoint. I do hope that pride does not blind anyone, most of all a once respected ruler, to admit a flawed decision and make the right change. History is full of how leaders and nations fall because of arrogance and resistance to listen to good advices.

The state assembly of Perak is due to reconvene on May 7. On the cards is a move to replace the current speaker of the house Sivakumar (for he has been the thorn in the flesh of the newly appointed Barisan state government). Events in the past 2 months shifted the chances of Barisan having their government legalized in courts that have pronounced their verdicts in their favour, although certain clauses in the state and federal constitutions have been deliberately misinterpreted or sidestepped (read interview of a former appeal court judge HERE). NH Chan was upset when he said,

"The judge who gives the right judgment but does not appear to be impartial is useless to the judicial process. After that, the judge's whole duty or function is to decide the case according to law on the admissible evidence before him.

And what do you call a judge who does not administer justice according to law? A renegade judge? So now you know why I am so vocal when I admonish the errant judges who did not apply unambiguous law as it stands.

When asked, "You have been especially blunt in your views over the issues in Perak. Why so?"

He replied, "You mean for calling a spade a spade? What do you call a judge who doesn't follow or apply easy to understand and unambiguous statute law as it stands?

Like Article 72(1) of the Federal Constitution which says: “The validity of any proceedings in the Legislative Assembly of any State shall not be questioned in any court
”.

I think the Malaysian judiciary is in deep trouble for not staying objective to the constitutions but playing political fires. I think their flawed decisions (lately too many are being made at many levels of our government, like the decision to double the levy for foreign workers, today suspended indefinitely by the cabinet) will go down in history as damaging to the dignity and accountability of our governments. Judges must check the government when they do wrong, just like the citizens can check the rulers through open criticisms (respectfully of course), by pronouncing verdicts in strict accordance to the laws, and not dancing to their tunes.

The viewpoints of both Mohamad Asri and NH Chan, a young Muslim scholar and a retired Chinese judge, are clear signs that we still have hope in our beloved Malaysia. We need to stand up and support rationale thinking and reasoning and say to the errant judges and government, "listen to us or we will send you packing at the next available opportunity".

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