Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chin Peng Helped Promote Sitiawan

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

Read HERE for Rise & Fall of Communism in Malaya.

Storm in the Teacup?


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

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

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wait Till You Are Ready to Die


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Hj. Muhammad Yusof Saad.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thinly Veiled Threat by MACC


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Picture credit: thestar online)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Indonesian vs Filipino Maids

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

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

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

Grow Up


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photo credit: thestar online)

Maid of Malaysia


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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 23, 2009

Be Young, Forever


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

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

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

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Personal Space


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

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

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

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

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

When they fall out of love they move apart physically.

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

Saturday, November 21, 2009

YES 2009


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



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

Keeping the Glow of Love Alive


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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 20, 2009

Startup in 7 Seconds?


This REPORT gets me quite excited after my office PC that runs on Vista suddenly take more than 5 minutes to start up over the past 3 days. It could be updating patches as the screen turned very dark so I get a little irritated if I should wait more or reboot. So I reboot a few times before I can see the welcome screen. I think you agree that fast PC makes us all more impatient so Google PC running on its Chrome operating system is surely going to give Microsoft a run for its money. With internet access becoming universal we are likely to see more users trusting web servers to store their data. I am already trusting Gmail as my default email server and I believe Google has struck the right answer in giving their subscribers space to store pictures, diary, videos and documents as well in their Picasa, Calendar, YouTube and Documents products. And with free streaming music from programs like Radiosure who need hard disks anymore?

Maybe my next PC will be a netbook running on Google Chrome which is available in a year's time as reported HERE but can be installed now on your PC to run as a regular browser. My target in 2 years time to upgrade to this new OS as by that time I expect the Malaysian broadband speed to be faster than it is now, and my home and office PCs to be near retiring age too.

Birds of the Same Feathers ...


As events unfold we see more clearly now the intentions of the Ong-Chua team in wrestling control of the MCA from the Liow faction in denying them the right to hold the November 28 EGM by having it declared illegal in a revamped central committee comprising yesmen to the president. Who would have imagine that Ong Tee Keat and Chua Soi Lek would actually join force to protect their turfs under the grand 'Greater Unity Plan' scheme? How can the party be united when infighting continues daily?

Today ordinary Malaysian Chinese are confused as who to believe or take side. Most would just ignore the tussle as irrelevant to Chinese interest as they have given up hope that the MCA can live up to its name or objective of representing the interest of the Chinese community in government when the leaders spend their time quarreling over legality and scheming how to protect their power base.

What are people thinking of these leaders now?

Ong Tee Keat - once honorable and principled but now viewed as a man not of his words and sacrificing moral principle to hang on to his presidency by colluding with his political enemy.

Chua Soi Lek - OTK's nemesis and a self confessed sex offender who re-emerges a 'saviour' of the party by giving his backing to the GUP and thereby strengthening OTK's base.

Liow Tiong Lai - unassuming but suddenly a political saint crying democracy after he was 'removed' as deputy president when the Registrar of Societies 'reinstated' CSL to his former DP post. One wonder if his demeanor changed when he found himself squeezed out of his ascension plan?

Wee Ka Siong - a trusted leutenant of LTL with a wishlist to become president one day soon? Or does he really believe that authority to decide on the top leadership must be reverted to the delegates in a new EGM? What is his real motive?

Chew Mei Fun - suddenly this lady has developed a voice of conscience for the Women's wing that she leads, or like WKS she too believe in the principle in letting the delegates decide who ought to be the president and deputy who were 'rejected' at the October 10 EGM?

If I am a delegate I would be confused as who to vote if a new EGM is called. With the feud continuing it is no wonder that Najib Tun Razak, the BN chairman, wants to intervene to bring about a rapid closure to this exasperating development. But the Chinese people are a proud race who does not want outsider interference even if they cannot resolve the strife quickly. Yet a solution must be found, soon. I have made the appeal before but why are the present MCA leaders not looking inward to the very senior, retired but respected MCA members for guidance and advice? Or do they already know the answers? I hope that these veterans like Michael Cheng and Lee San Choon will offer themselves, if not individually, at least as a group to break the impasse and to restore the pride and unity of the party to stand up once again.

For now I don't see shutting the voices of Liow's camp as the solution to bulldoze the GUP through. It is like binding the sore while it festers. It is better to engage them and let the EGM be called. If the Chua-Ong camp has agreed to call for fresh election 6 months later, the question is why then and not now? Is the 6 months to consolidate?

Snow Storm in Kuala Lumpur?


This came into my mailbox on November 9:

Dear Friends,

I don’t intend to cause alarm but I think I need to share this with everyone.

Rumours are surfacing about a freak winter storm that is expected to hit the Kuala Lumpur city centre on Friday, 20 November 2009 at around 7pm.


Being near the equator, KL has never experienced such a cold weather phenomenon and residents used to the hot and humid weather are warned to take serious precautions.

Reliable sources think that there are reasons to believe these rumours following some unusual weather-related events that many parts of the world have experienced in recent history.

Those who have never experienced extreme cold weather are advised to stick close to one another for support. I suggest reading this article on How to Survive Being Stranded in Snow and other similar ones you can find easily on the internet.

As I personally know some of these sources, I will send out further notices as we get closer to the anticipated event.

Remember, mark 20 November 2009 in your diaries. In such an occurrence, there is safety in numbers so stay close to one another, especially after office hours!


Stay tuned.

Regards,

I kept it out of curiosity. Of course I was sceptical as most of us Malaysians would be. Except for a few hailstorm (OK, maybe just one or two) I personally encountered when I was a kid nothing worse than that come closer to a winter snow storm. If not for the below report I would have missed the 'event'.

But a posting on Malaysian Mirror HERE posted at 7.48am today denied the storm will materialise. I hope the report is untrue. I hope that the email is true because it will be a truly grand experience without us going abroad to enjoy snow. So what if we suffer some inconvenience like massive traffic jams (Friday evening, school holidays just starting) or broken roofs and windows, and accidents. At least we have much to talk about, especially for KLites or those who happen to be caught in the city.

I will wait for tonight to find out if the email is a hoax or true. For once it will be nice if some of the so-called spam emails are actually true so we don't junk them into the spambox. If it is indeed a hoax, well, just treat it as April Fool 2010 joke delivered in advance! Life ought to be fun and a little humour now and then is good for the soul.

Happy Weekend!

Updated November 21, 7.00am - confirmed the email was a HOAX as expected. KL weather was wet but no storm.

Dr Mahathir as Senior Minister?


A suggestion was made to offer the former prime minister a senior minister post in the cabinet, much like the role Lee Kuan Yew is playing in the Singapore government. As reported HERE there are opposing views to this idea and I am taking the view that Dr Mahathir should not become a part of the cabinet for several reasons.

1. He is larger than life and looms over even the current prime minister so what is there to stop him from becoming the de facto prime minister instead of Najib? We don't need a new Mahathir era again after being subjected to his rule for 22 years. In any case his leadership style do not fit a more open Malaysian society today.

2. Dr Mahathir has the tendency to overrule other views and in his 22 years of premiership has stamped a very authoritarian style of running the government. I do not believe age has mellowed him. Given a chance he will believe he is the prime minister again.

3. If this idea was brought up when he retired in 2003 it would have sounded respectful but after 6 years it does sound insulting instead. If I were him I would not even think about it.

4. How would Dr Mahathir fit in? Far better to let him give his wisdom from his blog and help check and balance the government than give him power to overrule some cabinet decisions. Otherwise he will reactivate some of his pet projects that were cold storaged. Anyway it will be a formidable father-and-son team that Najib and the rest of the cabinet will have to contend with if he returns to government.

5. If a man has to retire, let him go in peace and don't resurrect him to cause more disturbances. If he has something to get off his chest, we should be prepared to listen but it is against human nature to bring back someone to upset a new team.

The era of mahathirism is over so we should get on with a new set of values to chart the nation forward.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Maxis Listed


Maxis Berhad returned to Bursa Malaysia today after it was taken private over 2 years ago. Branded as a blue chip share it attracted both institutional and retail interests. Especially when it guarantees a dividend payout of at least 75% of its net profits. As a Maxis subscriber myself for 13 years I thought I will stand more than an average chance of getting 1000 shares at the IPO price of RM4.75 each. I was given a blue form so I thought the shares are as good as mine. Well, I was disappointed as well as upset when I received the envelope A in my letterbox a week ago that meant I was unsuccessfully balloted. Doesn't loyalty count? I was tempted to cancel my Maxis subscription but resisted an over-reaction. My wife too failed to get an allocation when she applied separately.

Maxis shares opened trading this morning at RM5.28 and crept up to stabilise around RM5.40. Not an exceptional gain but then I believe this counter will not trade much sideways. Perhaps a good buy-in price will be between RM5.20-5.30 when the market fever subside a little in the next few days.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Two Masters



When I read THIS report I thought I saw it coming but what disappoints me is that it happens to a Christian church in which the teaching of being wary of the temptation of wealth and accountability to God for what the church receives are either forgotten or set aside due to personal weakness. This is certainly not the first case of how a church falls from having to deal with too much wealth or dreaming of too hugh a project.

Let's face it. Christians are as human as those who are not. What differentiates them is the God they worship is not the same as those of other religions. In a sense Christianity has become a benchmark of purity and virtues. Christians talk of sins as the root of all evil and that we are to resist them in order to stay true to God. Jesus Christ resisted the temptation to sin when he was about to begin his ministry. It was extra hard for him as temptation came at the moment of hunger and fatigue but he succeeded in avoiding the traps of Satan. Perhaps we can excuse ourselves and say that Jesus is the son of God so he has supernatural power that we humans don't have. But Jesus was as human as any of us, suffered every form of human emotions and sufferings. He was able to overcome because he was faithful and true to his God. This unfortunately cannot be said for all of his followers now called Christians. Christians are fallen but God never stop helping them to get up and resist the next temptation because his love for his children overides the worst of sins.

Temptations to sin target everybody but the Christians feel extra pressure because their religion specifically calls them to resist temptation to do wrong, for every sin committed is an abomination to God who is pure and sinless. Other religions do not address sin as a central issue so their believers do not feel as much pressure to conform.

Perhaps the issue of being morally clean has set Christians apart from believers of other faith and place them in greater scrutiny and judgement, not only from non-Christians but even from among their peers. This is potentially damaging and divisive as it can cause a church to come apart or subgroups formed to avoid the 'sinners' among them. However the Bible said clearly that 'For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God' (Romans 3:23). And Deutoronomy 1:17 says, 'Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of any man, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too hard for you, and I will hear it.'

We are tempted to judge the case reported and come to the obvious conclusion. If there is any obvious wrong committed who are we to judge another and show our 'holier than thou' attitude? Did not Jesus say, 'He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.' in John 8:7? Jesus handled sin differently. He forgave and said to the woman, 'I do not condemn you, either. Go, from now on sin no more' (John 8:11)

I believe that once we give of our pledges and offerings and any donations to the church we give away the right to manage them to the church leadership who shall be accountable to God himself on how it is spent. God himself will deal with any abuse of his wealth in his own way and in his own time. If there is any fear of God there ought to be fear in staying true to investing his wealth in the most responsible of ways.

I hope the above lesson will once again awaken all Christian churches, especially the leaders and pastors, to be good stewards of what are entrusted to them. I do not believe God will impoverise his servants for he will provide more than adequately for their services. Unfortunately in dealing with too much money it is tempting to begin to apply secular and worldly values in deciding how God's wealth is to be spent, or even hoarded for personal use as a result of greed. Somehow all deeds will see light one day but it is the evil ones that will bring downfall to even the holiest of God's saints.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Wet Wet Wet


Coming back from breakfast this morning we saw firemen in a fire brigade at the traffic junction near S2 Jusco extricating an injured victim (or corpse, I don't know) from a badly mangled car. I can only speculate what happened as it was not raining then: the driver probably shoot the red light and hit an oncoming vehicle, or he was driving the oncoming vehicle.

A few hours later on my way to work, on the straight road barely 300 metres from the earlier accident spot, another vehicle was in an awkward position with its rear end badly smashed up. It was drizzling then. I did not see any victim.

Last Saturday afternoon about 5.30pm I understand there was another accident about a kilometer away in which a trailer nearly fell over the overhead bridge into the North South Expressway below. Its prime-mover was dangling over the side of the bridge. Fortunately no one was injured.

In less than 48 hours 3 accidents occured within a kilometer distance. One is definitely weather related but all could also be due to driver negligence or impulsive driving. A wet weather condition certainly increases the risk of accidents, injuries and even death. Some people will never learn until they become victims.

As I drove to work just now the rain was torrential and I had to drive below 90kph to be safe. For all that we build up we should not let a moment of carelessness or indiscretion change the course of our future.

The Fall of an Impartial Judiciary


It was a gloomy and rainy morning and I had many unused hours from my Streamyx broadband account so I decided to spend some time reading some of the more interesting blogs and commentaries and I was struck by THIS impassionate commentary. I believe that the verdict of a biased judiciary will nail the Barisan government come the next general election. It seems the Appellant (Nizar, former chief minister, forced out of office) did all the right things while the Respondent (Zambry, current chief minister, 'illegally' appointed) was trying to justify his legality. It is really a David vs Goliath fight before a band of paid referees.

I would be lying to say I did not expect this verdict. I knew all along our judiciary at the highest courts has not been impartial but this is glaringly obvious. Playing the laws into the hands of political favours is worse than playing with fire. Every case between Pakatan and Barisan before has gone against Pakatan except for one ruled by a high court commissioner and even that one was overturned later. I believe these senior judges are political stooges and tools of UMNO's convenience. These judges who ruled against Nizar are just the end to justify the means. And I too would be lying to say I am not disappointed but I am no longer angry because I, like many concerned Malaysians, have made up my mind where my vote will go.

Najib is really silly and myopic to believe that short term gains will translate into a long term advantage. Today there are more educated, thinking and connected Malaysians who can rationalise and differentiate right from wrong and who are willing to stand up to fight for a socially secured and political just country.

Pakatan Rakyat may be staggering from petty quarrels within its coalition. Who is there to say that such quarrels may not be engineered by external forces? We should not lose faith in the only opportunity we have to put up a formidable opposition. For whatever Pakatan is, we should accept its warts and moles as well as we urge it forward to fight for a just and harmonious country. We must be prepared to be inconvenienced by short term pain to enjoy long term gain for our children and grand-children. A partial judiciary will actually help keep the relevance of Pakatan alive.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

F.A.I.T.H


Today I learned what the above acronym stands for:

Fantastic Adventures In Trusting Him

Faith is believing in what is invisible but why is it so fragile in this world? I believe prosperity has made a big dent in our faith because there are too many visible goods to justify why we should trust the invisible. It goes against the grain to think: why should I trust God when I have wealth and health? I am self supporting and can survive on my own strength and resources. In a sense faith is irrelevant to many people because being in trouble is an alien experience to them. In fact their faith is in what they already possess so they find it unnecessary to even believe in God.

Religion is a product quite unsaleble in good times and good health. So to many people it is a new experience to be asked to trust God to provide when times are bad. More than that many people find it difficult to believe in God when they are assailed by any of the following life changing events:

Fear, Pain, Terminal Illness, Death, Bankruptcy, Elevation in Power and Great Wealth, and Major Crime

Most of the time the first course of action is run for human assistance. But firstly is to try to resolve the difficulties themselves before trusting others. Only in the final resort, when all else fail, will they ever consider divine help. If I am God I will feel either terribly angry or disappointed at such lack of faith but it is a human reaction.

Faith in God takes a believer into a realm of experience that cannot be written but shared. Faith cannot be given like a gift is given; it has to be owned through a willingness to surrender self will to God's will, to tell God that I do believe in You although there is no earthly reason nor explanation why I should but I will because you demand of me through faith. Just like Abraham who trusted absolutely in God who tested him to sacrifice his only son Isaac, God may also test each of us to the same extreme extent. I have not experienced the absolute trust when I am tested in such ways but to vocalize one's belief is the first step to building faith, what follows then will be step by step encounter with God who will put in your ways events to move you into great dependence on Him to provide and to rescue.

I find it easier to exercise faith in some areas of difficulties like in financial difficulties when you half know that rescue will come from multiple sources and you will not die of starvation. But to be put into great fear, like being sentenced to death for a murder, or subject to torture for professing your faith in the Lordship of Jesus Christ, or a tragedy in the family when many lives are taken, such major tests can shake many people out of their faithfulness. But when your life is under threat perhaps the only recourse is run to God.

Will you want to be tested this way? I honestly ask God to exempt me from such trials. However, when trials do come we have to make our choice: trust our human solutions which will disappoint, or give God a chance to show his redemptive power and love.

The biggest culprits that destroy our faith are wealth, power, knowledge and sin. Like vines they can strangle our faith and hold ransom to our lives. At the end of our life's journey none of these things will mean anything to us. Surrendering our lives to live godly lives help us explore new realms of trust and overcome daily problems. That is a fantastic adventure when we trust in the living God.

Friday, November 13, 2009

1Malaysia, 2Laws

Oh I love this one but Patrick beat me to it. Have a good laugh! I bet the deputy prime minister will have a perfectly valid reason why he did not wear a crash helmet. Let me guess ... it was a private road ???

Gmail, Blogspot, YouTube and Picasa


I have been a Gmail subscriber for almost 5 years. I had to be invited to get in and I thought it was a real a privilege to become a Gmail subscriber so I happily invited my other friends later. Before I joined Gmail I tried Hotmail, Yahoo and other free webmails for the fun of it. I still keep 2 of them but I hardly use them, the rest they just dropped out into oblivion. I don't think I can even remember the addresses or their passwords. In those days subscribers would get maybe 100Mb free storage but Google (owner of Gmail) decided to do the unthinkable. They throw in a free 1Gb storage and I believe that got many users scrambling for the enlarged storage. It also got their rivals Yahoo and Hotmail to raise their stakes as well. Soon after that they did another unthinkable stunt, they started increasing the free storage a little every day. They claimed that for a regular user who do not receive or send large files and who regularly clean out the unnecessary emails (although they said you don't have to manage your emails since they are giving you progressively more storage) he will probably never reach the maximum free storage capacity. Well, today Gmail is giving me (and every other subscriber, new or old) more than 7Gb free storage which continues to grow daily. One day in 2-3 years time I believe we will all get 10Gb free space.

Back in 2005 1Gb is a big thing but today 10Gb is a regular thing. In 2015, 100Gb may be normal and 10Gb will be like 100Mb in 2005. The appetite for large storage is whet by the huge amount of video files trafficked across the internet. But for users like me who use webmails to send and receive emails with few attachments 10Gb free storage that I think will be offered by around 2011-2012 will be sufficient for our needs. In the worst case scenario, I'd just go to the oldest emails and delete them to recover free space as I doubt those 5-8 years old would mean anything. Today, after using Gmail for more than 4 years I have only used up 24% of my 7380Mb free storage. Admittedly I am able to keep the usage low because I delete those forwarded mails with big attachment files that some friends sent me. Although Gmail does not provide sorting feature, spending some time checking your old emails and deleting those unimportant ones will help keep your archive relevant and your storage space lean without having to apply for more storage which will cost you money. Learn more HERE.

I began blogging seriously just over a year ago using blogger.com (which manages the blogspot.com servers). Before that I was blogging on a trial basis using the 360.yahoo.com (which is now closed). Blogspot is owned by Google so it is natural that they want to link everything under one umbrella. Through one common username I can access Gmail and Blogspot at the same time. Since Google also owns Picasa they encourage their subscribers to instal and use this software to manage their web albums. It is not a coincidence that they marry Blogspot and Picasa. Picasa is free but is restricted to a 1Gb free storage limit before you have to buy more space. Otherwise I believe you cannot upload anymore graphics. However I believe one solution is to create more co-authors to your blog (who can be yourself) and use their accounts to upload more files.

Another loophole that we can take advantage of is apply for more than one free Gmail account. If you have 5 you have immediately over 35Gb free space for your emails which is enormous. With that much more space for your blogs, web albums, etc you have more room to be creative and interesting in your blogs.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gift of Sand and Water


President Hu Jintao of China made a personal visit to historic Melaka yesterday and guess what? The state government decided that a gift of polluted seawater and sand from the Straits of Malacca (read HERE) would be a choice gift to the leader of the most populous nation of the world! Boasting a historic culture a finer gift of a handcrafted miniature Peranakan building, or Baba and Nyonya dolls, Malacca becha (tricycle), sculptures of Stadthuy Building, the Christ Church or A'Famosa Fort or even a toy sized ship Admiral Zheng He sailed commanded when he visited Malacca 600 years ago. Anything that reflects Malacca's fine and rich history to a leader whose deep interest in history drove him to see Melaka. But sand and seawater? Am I embarassed!

To top the 'insult' the president and his wife were given 'certificate of attendance' bearing auspicious 8888 number for visiting the longest strait of the world. When I was a kid I used to stroll along the waterfront of Lumut, Perak, that also faces the straits and no one ever told me that I was at a record breaking place. Now I know. I may not be a believer of feng shui and I am all but tired of this fat x 4 number that has lost its gleam and inference, but did the Melaka state government, or more specifically the Chief Minister Ali Rustam who must have approved both the gifts and certificates, find out if they will be appreciated? It is a historic visit to historic Melaka but I think the tokens of appreciation did not match the respect that ought to be given to a very distinguished head of state. It does seem like an insult to me, if not a act that was badly thought out and planned. Was diplomatic protocol broken by this act of inconsideration?

I won't be surprised if the sand and seawater never leave the KLIA airport or the certificate became scrap papers instead. Sheesh!

A Public Dare


Deputy President of MCA, Dr Chua Soi Lek, dares Vice President Liow Tiong Lai HERE and HERE to declare the latter's interest to be the DP. Actually there is no need to openly say so since Liow had earlier accepted nomination and was voted the DP after Dr Chua's post was declared vacant when the central delegates at the EGM on October 10 voted against reinstating him as the DP. Liow's acceptance of the DP position, until the ROS recent reply stating that Dr Chua's position was never vacated, simply means he had wanted to rise up the party ladder. Now he said and I quote,

“I would like to reiterate that I’m not going for any of the posts. Position is not important to me,”

This is obviously contradictory. If he is not interested in positions why did he accepted nomination for DP? Position unimportant? I think he need to check who he is speaking to. It would be honorable if he just come clean and admit that he wants to become the MCA president one day when the time is right. I am sure if you pose this question to Dr Chua he would have to admit the same. Any leader would aspire for the top given the chance so it is a lie to beat around the bush. If you ask Dr Wee Ka Siong, I would distrust his reply if he denies he has no such aspiration.

Dr Chua had made Liow a novice by daring him to declare publicly his desire. Denying the interest puts Liow in public disdain but accepting the challenge also puts him in disdain for revealing his greed for power. The master maneuvrer has put Liow in a tight spot besides playing him out of further contention as a reliable and effective future President of MCA.

Like the Chinese like to say, the horse leg has now been exposed. Liow had played into the game plan of Dr Chua and pretending that he is all for the Greater Unity Plan to contain his failing attempt to bring down Dr Chua and President Ong Tee Kiat by softening his stance. However I am not suggesting that the 'sinister' collaboration by the 2 former enemies is morally right. I have my doubts over the real objectives of the GUP. Is there any cover-ups? What compromises were made between the 2 leaders? Fresh election is still the only way to cleanse the party of the mess. No inconvenience nor cost is too great to rid the party of unhealthy politics and instability. When in doubt always go back to basics.

Liow would have been honorable if he had not gotten involved in the scramble for power. Now that he has, he had lost credibility to become a good presidential candidate should the November 28 EGM 2 be held and the delegates voted overwhelmingly for a fresh party election. Who then would be a viable leader for MCA? Is there any untainted leader who the delegates can accept?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Healthy Morning Start


Everybody agrees but not everyone does and I belong to this group. I am talking about waking up early and have a brisk walk to limber up the body. For months I have been unable to get up before 7am and get out of the house for this healthy ritual but today I managed, not without a prompt from my wife. I believe wives are good prompters, they get you off your back to do what they think are good. I have absolutely no excuse - where I stay it is not polluted with vehicular emissions, there are lots of greeneries, and it is very quiet and serene.

I just came back from a 15 minutes walk with her, up and down some sloppy roads that got our hearts pumping furiously. Signs of poor health but a good start to rejuvenate them. As I sit before my PC pumping out this short post I feel fresher. I think I should make this more habitual, don't you agree? If you do I suggest you join me in making a good start to all your days from now on.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Enough Complaints in Cyberworld


Prime minister Najib wants the people to write to him personally to complain, or praise or suggest. As reported HERE he sees the use of ICT as one way to get people closer to him and vice versa. I disagree that this approach is useful. Ample feedbacks are already published in newspapers, online news portals, commentaries and blogs. All Najib need to do is get his secretaries to collate them and submit to him for reading and action. There is no need for another round of wasteful writing, or is Najib trying to show off his new 1Malaysia website that can run up to 1Gb per second speed? In time like this people don't care about impressive internet speed. The mood of the people is clearly that of restlessness, more evident after his October budget speech. He should take note of these complaints and start acting on them. I sometime think our PM believes more in window dressing his administration to show the world how well he is doing. Window dressing does not feed the stomach nor clothe the body. Najib ought to be a pragmatic PM to know that the people do not see much worth in sloganeering a substanceless 1Malaysia concept.

(Photo credit: theStar Online)

Privileged Medicare


For the past 4 years I was in a privileged medicare program as a patient under Associate Professor Dr KY Loh of the International Medical University campus in Seremban. In this program I volunteered to have my medical history clerked by a medical student in Dr Loh's class as part of the student's practical training. All the students must learn how to identify symptoms and prescribe the right treatments as well as understand the underlying medical principles. In a sense these students need to be inquisitive, systematic and learn to develop a good problem solving skill to be able to provide excellent medicare to patients under their treatment.

I enjoy every session and help the students with background information to write my case history for reporting. Of course none of them ever reach the high and demanding standard required by Dr Loh who often bemoaned the poor abilities of his students in using correct medical terms in the verbal report and phrasing the reports and questions accurately. Under his tutelage his students will benefit greatly if they ask and are willing to apply what they have learned.

Sadly today is my final session with Dr Loh as he will be moving to Kuala Lumpur for another posting next year. In the 4 years under his care my hypertension, hypercholestrolemia and benign prostatic hyperplasia have all been brought under control through medication. My follow-ups will be to regular medical officers in the health clinic where I have been receiving my medical checkups. I hope they will be able to provide me the same excellent healthcare I have grown accustomed to.

In the session today I learned 3 interesting medical terms I'd like to share.

Tinisimus - incomplete defecation (spelling may be incorrect).
Strangury - incompete urination.
Campbell-de-Morgan spots - cherry colored spots on skin caused by proliferation of blood capillaries.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Change is Hard


The post title makes reference to a speech by President Obama recently as reported HERE. His remarks is an admission that human behavior is hard to change. I agree wholeheartedly since I cannot change myself although I willed to. Perhaps this explains why so many new year resolutions fail to get off the papers they are written on. Wives who try to change their husbands will agree that change is indeed hard, but does this means we stop changing what need to be changed when we believe that change brings about good? Obama did not say change is impossible, just that it is hard. But when change do indeed come about through perseverance and great efforts the rewards will be sweet and satisfying.

Sometimes we change out of keeping up with the time and out of necessity. But since change involves not just ourselves but also another party it becomes harder when the other party do not cooperate to help the change process.

Recently I decided to change my investment agent to another. Professionally that agent should facilitate my request since I've decided to terminate the service. But I sense resistance. The lack of cooperation and willingness to let go of me impacted my impression of her negatively.

I concur with Obama after this incident. Change is hard for the outgoing agent because something is at stake for her. I believe that we tend to resist change if it brings about a loss but not otherwise. At the center of change is human selfishness.

Friday, November 06, 2009

NAP and Me - Relook

After the ballyhoo from the public the government decided to withdraw the scrapping of cars above 15 years old unless they pass mandatory annual roadworthiness tests as reported HERE. While others may rejoice I think the government erred but they are entirely at fault for not preparing the citizens towards this program of managing environment and road safety. Scrapping old vehicles is actually a very good policy and I am sure will get support if only the government had been more engaging with the stakeholders, that is the motorists and auto businessmen.

1. There is no plan to reduce the price of new vehicles. Malaysians pay among the highest prices for new vehicles. We know that the government tax about half the price of all on-the-road new cars. Therefore if a car OTR price is RM100,000, the government taxes about RM50,000. Why is it so atrociously high? Why can't the government make new cars more affordable by taxing 15-30%? I know it has to protect the national cars projects but to punish the citizens through over-taxation is inhuman, especially those who really cannot afford to buy anything but the smallest saloon cars. If they cannot afford to replace old cars because of high prices of the new cars can they be blamed for not supporting the scrapping policy? The government can justify the need to tax such quantum to raise revenue to support development budgets but we want to see how they can be more efficient in managing wastage in funds disbursed.

2. Taking unroadworthy vehicles off the roads need broader interactions with the public and automotive industry to arrive at a graduated plan to make the policy workable and succeed. It may take 5 years to effectively remove such vehicles but the public must be educated and forewarned that this is coming. I don't believe the government can just speak and expect the policy to be implemented without a hiccup.

3. Yes the government has given a RM5000 incentive to owners of Proton and Perodua vehicles to trade in their old vehicles. Why the preferential treatment? Why penalise other drivers who are non-national cars owners? Is this again a unilateral idea and decision by someone who has little practical experience of the actual problems car owners face?

4. Do the government consider the impact of the scrapping policy on auto businesses dealing in used vehicles and parts? Do the government expect them to resurrect into other businesses after suffering losses from unsaleable older vehicles and obsolete parts? Read a related report HERE.

It is little wonder many smaller businesses and car owners are annoyed at the half baked policy that is scrapped as easily as it is introduced. If it has been well thought, studied and introduced it will be able to stand criticisms. As it is I believe it was not.

Thank God it's Monday


You've heard the popular cliche 'Thank God its Friday' or TGIF which expresses the joy of the approaching weekend. This expression came out from the States at the time when they were on a 5 days work week. Then to many of us who were still on a 5 and half days work week, TGIF was meaningless until the federal government introduced the 5 days week about 6 years ago. That really made the civil servants and many private sector employees happy. But the global recession that struck us over a year ago made many employees jobless. TGIF became meaningless because there was nothing to look forward to since there is no money earned to be spent on weekends. To these people the really meaningful phrase should be TGIM which assures them that there is a job to return to comes Monday.

Depending on how you look at it, when life is secured you look for pleasure. But when life is insecure you look for work to assure you a pleasure in the future. Do you dread that Monday comes too soon? Or do you thank God that you were not given that dreaded notice that the company cannot afford to keep you anymore? Be grateful for Mondays that you can wake up and dress for the office.

Will You be Happier at #2?


I'd rather be in #2 than in lead. I don't even mind #3, #5 or #10 but not inconspicuous like in #45 or #200. Maybe my preference also explains why I never like to sit in the front pew in church, front row in class or lecture hall. I like to be in the second or third row but not as backbenchers. At the back you tend to miss some actions but at the top or front you are very noticeable and much is expected of you. You must be well prepared to be in that front or top position.

If you are at the top you are expected to voice leadership and set an example for the followers. At the top you are constantly scrutinised. I don't like being scrutinized and I don't think I have substance of effective leadership. Perhaps I like the thought of being cushioned in-between, there is safety and comfort of being good enough to be noticed but not good enough to be the top.

Being #1 means you have to work extra hard to retain your lead. #1 is a lonely place because there is no one ahead of you and you have to chart the course for others to follow. I wonder what pressure our squash queen Nicole David faces as the reigning world champion for 4 consecutive years. Some people like it and enjoy being tested to deliver their best, not me. I enjoy doing my best under my own terms and not forced by competition.

Back in my school days I never reached #1, there was always this classmate who always did better. I was neither envious nor upset because I was happy that my best delivered me the #2 position in the public exams. I hold to the philosophy that it is not necessary to achieve the pinnacle of your performance to be happy. Maybe real happiness involves not even trying to reach any position but just doing your best and loving it.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Spring Will Come Again


No, I am not writing about spring as we have only one season in Malaysia. I am sharing a TV serial of that title that just ended its broadcast over the Astro AEC channel 301 2 days ago. The 45 episode serial was produced by a Chinese production company with actors from mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. I rate this movie as excellent in several category: story line, acting skills, musical score, videography and directing. Let me share a brief synopsis and the lesson the serial teaches.

The story is about 2 brothers in a poor village in China. The older brother (Lai Fook) loved his younger brother (Chang Kooi) dearly and even took the fall for him, including taking the blame for a murder his younger brother committed and spending 10 years in jail during which time he lost his girlfriend to his younger brother. Lai Fook was adopted from an unknown family (later his identity was revealed; he was really the grandson to a very rich businessman) and his only identification was a jade ornament hung around his neck. He did not know his real family but treated his adoptive parents as his own.

Lai Fook's real father died in a shootout and before he die asked his wife to seek for his lost son through an illicit affair that his wife just discovered and resented. But being the only heir to the family's business, although born of an illicit relationship, the wife reluctantly set out to search for Lai Fook. When the private investigator found him, Lai Fook's adopted father (he wanted to taste a life of plenty as he had been poor all his life) decided to lie. He declared that the long lost son the investigator was searching for is Chang Kooi. He wanted Chang Kooi to later take good care of him.

But Chang Kooi, like his own father, is not a man of moral character but weak to money. If he can betray his adopted brother Lai Fook twice there is nothing to stop him from committing more sins. As Chang Kooi camouflage as the real son of the Chu family, taking the name of Chu Zi Kooi, he moved to Shanghai and learned how to be rich and powerful, and corrupt. As his lust for power and money grow, he abandoned his village girlfriend, his own parents, and his older brother. He rubbed shoulders with the rich and gained the confidence of the Chu family and eventually married the cousin sister.

Lai Fook continues to haunt his younger brother, chastising him for erring and lecturing him to stay filial and moral, but Chang Kooi (now taking the identity of Zi Kooi) is sold to the devil and plotted to get rid of his brother, killed his stepmother and rigged the murder on Lai Fook and then bribed the police and judge to have him sentenced to death. To hide his true identity from the Chu family Zi Kooi even send a thief to steal the birth records from his own parents who were accidentally stabbed to death.

Lai Fook escaped death and under a new identity returned to Shanghai to avenge the death of his adoptive parents and other loved ones that Zi Kooi killed.

Zi Kooi's wealth and sphere of influence were destroyed and, left near penniless, asked for forgiveness from his older brother. But Lai Fook was bent on avenging and was devoid of any emotion despite the appeals from his brother.

Zi Kooi committed suicide in a mental asylum. He lost everything. Lai Fook never found satisfaction killing his own brother albeit indirectly. Although he regained near normal life with his lover somehow the image of the simple village life continue to haunt him. He asked repeatedly why had his stepmother sent the investigator to his village to search for him and not leave them alone? Life would then have a different ending, and his beloved brother would not suffer a tragic death.

Chang Kooi's greed lead to his eventual downfall. He confessed he could not resist the prospect of being very rich and would do anything to protect his wealth and power.

The person who destroyed Chang Kooi was not Lai Fook but their father who was blinded by wealth and caused Chang Kooi's death.

Lesson
If we are unable to manage wealth and power it is better to stay away from them and remain where we are in life. Money and power can destroy if not properly managed. Do not desire what you cannot control but control your desire.

When a Child Needs Your Hand ...


Hold it. Because a time will come very soon when he or she will not want your hands anymore.

Yesterday when I read my daughter's blog that Victoria refused her mommy's help to walk her to her class in playschool it reminds me the precious months a child would want you. When they learn the meaning of independence and the ability to doing things on their own they will want to explore the world without your help. It is not that they are ungrateful or do not love you anymore. It is the start of leaving the nest and I think it is helpful to every parent and grandparent to always, always hold the hands of his/her child/grandchild when he/she wants you.

So last night when Ling started pulling me (she just loves to pull me each time I try to get a rest on my IKEA easychair) to go somewhere or play a game with her, I remember how fast Victoria is growing and I decided I want to stay in the orbit of Ling as long as she still wants to hold my hands... . Psychologically I felt needed and she felt safe and wanted. It works both way and when the time does come when Ling refuses my hand (even now when she walks down the staircase she no longer hold my hand to stabilise her) I would at least recollect the precious months when she really held onto my hands when she needed mine.

Because one day the hand she will be holding to will be that of a man she loves ...

The Monsoon Fury


I still remember this mnemonic, NEOM, that I created from my schooldays to aid me in remembering the changing monsoon season in my geography lesson. NE stands for North East Monsoon and OM stands for October to March. NEOM helped me remember that each year in Malaysia the NE monsoon comes in October and would last till March the following year before it gives way to the South West Monsoon. Whenever the NE Monsoon comes there would be much rain accompanied by thunderstorm. Each year the actual arrival of the NE Monsoon would vary slightly, sometimes delayed to November but this year it has arrived in late October when we suddenly encountered almost daily rain with flashes of lightnings and loud thunder in the late afternoon as well as rain at night.

Weatherwise this is just about the worst Malaysians face as we don't experience typhoons or hurricanes which are more destructive. But the effect of monsoon rain can cause landslides like the recent one that closed the Rawang Selayang trunk road 2 days ago (it should be reopened by now). Many years ago I remember it also caused a massive landslide on the road leading to the Genting Highlands and burying a car. And I believe waterlogged soil also contributed to building collapses, in particular those on slopes and with poor foundations. Recently there were 6 accidental deaths in Perak when 3 kids fell into a river from a suspension bridge that collapsed when one of its anchored foundation broke free (caused by loose wet soil perhaps) and 3 students were drowned in a waterfall. These are somehow related to the fury of the monsoon.

Aside from physical damages and loss of lives electrical current that surge through power and telephone lines also cause many electrical appliances to fail, especially televisions, telephones, computers and modems. When the monsoon season lashes in, be prepared for some appliance damage but a useful rule of thumb is to unplug and disconnect sensitive equipment when the storm comes. Cost aside it is the inconvenience and lost time to get such appliances in working order again.

Safety on the roads is definitely compromised during a storm. Aquaplaning of vehicles driven too fast over a pool of rainwater is a common cause of road accidents. Malaysian roads, including highways, are often designed without rapid rainwater drainage to avoid flooding the roads. Because monsoon rains can be furious and dense, visibility is often poor. As far as possible avoid driving in a monsoon rain, or drive carefully and with the headlights on.

I have lived through mild and mean monsoons. The mild ones just rain and rain and rain while the mean ones make it appear like the world is about to end with dark and evil clouds, angry flashes of lightnings and deafening thunderclaps while rain falls in torrents to flood roads, carparks and houses and tear down trees and power lines. When I was a child I enjoy both without fear. Monsoon season both excite and create anxiety. It all depends whether you are young or an adult. For now I am hoping that clear skies will come soon and the rain visit less often for it will signify the passing of yet another monsoon ... and await for another year for a fresh encounter with it.

Today's Verse of the Day is coincidentally this:

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock."

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Voice of Discontent

As the afternoon drags slowly on I decided to browse Citizen's Blog and found THIS posting with comments that strikes the cord of discontent of ordinary citizens who cannot swallow the RM50 service tax on credit cards. It hurts to have a prime minister who is insensitive to appeals for reconsideration. What is RM500 million expected from such collections when the auditor-general reported recently how the government have overpaid to the tune of RM28 billions a year from overcharging of bills? Who benefitted from these rackets? The government cannot expect the citizens to plug the big leak with a stick. It has to deal with its internal mismanagement rather than tax the cardholders unfairly.

Read my other posts HERE and HERE.

MCA Fights to Consolidate

I don't know if I should laugh or sneer when I read THIS report that shocked many people. But in politics nothing is impossible. The Registrar of Societies seemed to be twisted to reinstate Dr Chua Soi Lek as deputy president of MCA when the party had earlier sacked him but later restored his membership without accepting him back as deputy president. Question is whether the EGM of 10th October 2009 was legally constituted and the resolutions properly voted on. On the surface it appear that the decisions of the EGM were above board and the ROS cannot intervene unless they had contravened the constitutions. The ROS has and it begged the question if someone had instructed him to.

With Dr Chua reinstated as DP does it means Liow Tiong Lai's appointment as deputy president by the central committee was illegal? Will Liow fight against his removal? MCA appear to be heading into a deep split with 3 major forces at war. The Ong Tee Keat and Dr Chua's groups are strategically combined and will fight against the Liow's group which now have the support of the Youth and Wanita wings (although not unanimous in both cases).

In another development today, Ong has sacked 4 central committee members who are aligned to Liow as reported HERE and replaced them with his own, including the son of Dr Chua. In so doing he is consolidating his power as well as pacifying Dr Chua. With Dr Chua reinstated the leadership status of MCA has reverted to pre-EGM days with 3 differences:

1. Ong is on speaking term to Dr Chua unlike previously when they avoided each other. Will this marriage last? Will Dr Chua be after Ong's throat when Liow is floored and knocked out?
2. Liow was buddy to Ong then but today both are political enemies. It is like Liow and Dr Chua has switched role.
3. Then there were 2 distinct groups, pro-Ong and pro-Chua. Today we are seeing 3 distinct groups. MCA is really divided.

The MCA power struggle is a shame. The party is really heading for destruction. Ask anyone who is the best person to lead MCA now I am sure the answer is someone from outside the party since none of the present leadership appear clean and capable enough to command the popular support of both the party members and the Chinese community. Looks like MCA has sold its soul to the non-Chinese.

Future of Political Blogs and Online News Portals

I developed an interest in reading online blogs and online news portals after the March 8, 2008 election upset that saw Barisan Nasional federal government lost its 2/3 majority and 5 states. Like many other Malaysians whose political awareness was heightened by this landmark event, the alternative news and commentary media gave us information (not necessary accurate or true) to what mainstream media like Star, NSTP and Utusan Malaysia report. Not that they are untrue but being owned by government linked organizations they tend to slant the news and views to put the government in more positive or less negative lights, depending on whether they need to be published. Sometimes if the news are really damaging they get struck off altogether by the editor in chief. Getting to read such news and alternative views is only possible via blogs and ONP like Malaysiakini, MalaysiaInsider, Malaysia Today, Nutgraph, etc.

For the past 20 months or so I was daily interested in the political and social developments of my beloved country. I would get upset at the injustice of some government decisions and actions, at some racists views expressed by BN politicians that go unacted upon and will read how fellow Malaysians feel about these issues. I suppose political blogs and ONP are only popular when we continue to face frustrations and anger at how the government continue to resist popular opinions against issues like removal of the ISA, transforming the police and judiciary or maintaining English as the main medium of teaching in schools. And now some elements of the recent budget that many of us feel as unfair and ill thought out.

When Najib Tun Razak took over from Ahmad Badawi as the current prime minister he began undoing some policies that antagionized many Malaysians to the BN government. In some ways he is successful but somehow the general feeling is he is not doing enough, or fast enough. And his credibility is still haunted by accusations of his involvement with the Mongolian model's murder that has been swept under the carpet. The recent 7 months has seen many blogs and ONP running short of sensational issues to report and comment. In a way it is good. I'd rather have a boring political society than one that is constantly being upheaved by divisive issues. A government must stop politicising its work once it gets elected to power. But often to stay in power and fight threats by the opposition it must defend its political stand even in its day to day operation. I believe the public are sick of such resource wasting activities.

Is there a controlling hand in manipulating the nation by keeping the people agitated by politicising issues? Political blogs and ONP will lose their readership once the government stop making major mistakes and carry out its work diligently. With nothing much for the opposition to raise there will not be many issues for such media to write about. Already I see a reduced interest, some of these media do not write much or update their sites except once a day or two. Good thing is we spend less time reading updates but go about doing other useful works. For the moment I just hope these issues get resolve quickly:

1. Teoh Beng Hock's inquest
2. MCA crisis
3. PKFZ corruption investigation
4. Perak state government controversy

They are thorns we want removed. But when they are solved will newer ones replace them to keep the blogs and ONP active again? I guess those of us who are wise to Malaysian politics will disagree that there will ever be political peace in our country and that we just have to learn to live with constant discords over even petty issues and not allow them to upset us, or fear that we are heading for destruction. Perhaps this is just how our politicians work: on the surface they hit out at each other but beneath they slap each other's shoulders and laugh at the fools they've made all of us to be.

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