Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lent Reflection

Today is Palm/Passion Sunday In history today Jesus Christ rode on a donkey into Jerusalem cheered on by his supporters as he begin the final week of his life on earth. Dare we get inside his head to learn how he felt knowing that the end is drawing near?

Over the past year Jesus had gone around the countrysides, towns and even the cities of Judea preaching the gospel of repentance and redemption, and condemnation to those who refused to confess their sins. He made enemies when he proclaimed he was the son of God, and for stirring up resentment against the religious sects. He was popular and unpopular at the same time but he was not bothered about how man look at him. His only consideration was to carry out the will of God, his heavenly father. Jesus knew that the penalty for defying the religious authorities was death, a very painful and shameful death on the cross. He must have struggled to take the easy way out, or to face the cross, and sufferings.

The few days after he rode the donkey, he was aware that time was preciously limited. He began to teach his disciples of the things to come and encourage them to stay faithful to his teachings.

Here I compare the above episode to a man who is suffering from a terminal disease and with just days left, and in deep pain, he calls his family together for his last words to each and every one of them.

Some of us are in a similar situation. Do we have the right words to encourage? Have we lived a productive life that impacted others in a real and positive way? Do we have skeletons in our closets to be cleared away?

Lent gives every Christian an opportunity to sort things out and to begin life anew. We ought not to miss this chance to do that.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

We Are Giving Away Our Rice Bowls

To the Chinese the rice bowl is a symbol of survival and prosperity. I don't know about other races but to the Chinese, rice being the staple food, fills the stomach, provides energy and help them get by day to day. No meat, no vegetable never mind, just soy sauce on top will do. I've eaten that way years ago and it was not anything to be ashamed about. Try it. It is a sin to spill rice or waste it. Today we, not just the Chinese, but everyone who have not experienced the pain of hunger and insecurity of tomorrow, would discard rice as if it is unlimited in supply. Grandmothers will tell you if you as much as drop a grain of rice or leave it unfinished on your bowl, the lightning will get you.

This sadly is the mentality of many Malaysians, especially the younger ones, who grew up after the second world war, in particular born after the 1970s who are now in their 20s and 30s, who only know life from the perspective of convenience, abundance, luxury and variety. Anything from the other side will be unfair and unjust. Most of these young Malaysians have not had an empty stomach experience so would not understand how the millions of foreign workers who chased their dreams of economic survival to our shore feel. The loneliness and trauma of separation they go through. Perhaps these young Malaysians should be sent to the poorer parts of Indonesia, deeper terrains of Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal and Bangladesh to 'suffer' a life of relative inconvenience to lift them from the euphoria that life has no sufferings. Perhaps their parents should be sent too, for not warning their children or over pampering them.

About 10% of our population is made up of migrant workers. Isn't it scary that every 10th person you bump into on average is not a Malaysian? Indeed we are overrun by them but are they our enemies who destroyed our culture or take away our jobs? On the contrary I think we are our own enemies who destroyed our own cultures and gave away our jobs to them, because we think they are too lowly for us to work on. Recently the Indian Muslim restaurants complained that locals refuse to work there when the government refused to allow Indians foreigners in. Business is business. If locals won't work, someone must come in. If the government want to rectify the imbalance it should check the rot from the source, which is why we are giving away our rice bowls? It gets sensitive if we go into details but suffice to say that reality sets in when prosperity ends. Pain comes with a hard landing unless you have a cushion which many young Malaysians don't have, and don't know they don't have.

The Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister says HERE that foreign workers are more DRIVEN. No, he does not means they are chauffeured. He means they have more drive to work, that is, they have incentive and purpose, which cannot be said of our younger Malaysians. Yawn! it has become the typical reactions globally that menial and low class jobs ought to be given to uneducated, poor and disconnected people. Many Malaysian kids (including those up to their 30s) want to feel educated, rich and connected even if they are not, so they won't touch low jobs - they say too hot, too dirty, too inconvenient, no class, no status, not enough pay. They want air-conditioning, short hours, good pay, good perks, nice titles, city life, near to malls and cineplexes. There are tonnes of jobs but few takers. Even the blue collar jobs are being recruited overseas.

Those young Malaysians who refuse to earn a living because they think they have god fathers, they are the ones who will drag everyone down, including those who work hard to prosper the nation. And share their rice bowls with them because the government say so.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Water on Tap

I have marveled at the clarity and cleanliness of spring water when I was on tour in Canada and New Zealand. The water looked inviting and sparkling, good enough to drink raw. So it was like spring water has come to my house, or almost like spring water.

Soon after the sediment filter was installed 3 days ago, while I was taking my shower, I tasted the water. It did not possess the taste of raw water that my tongue was highly sensitive to. I could never drink raw water. I would vomit if I tried but during the shower I trickled the water into my mouth and swallowed a little. I was amazed to discover it was drinkable! I drink a little more and I did not reject it. The water tasted sweet, odorless and without traces of metal or chlorine. But since my habit is to drink boiled water I did not go overboard.

I am pleased that I have quality water on tap at home. Perhaps the filter media was still new but I feel it did a great job in removing not only sediments but also balance out the acidity and remove trace elements that make raw water more palatable. I think we all should have good water. It is our right to enjoy. Each time I turn on any tap at home I will be tempted to put my mouth to it and take a big gulp. But I won't because I know it is not real spring water.

* the picture above is of Huka Falls in North Island, NZ that we visited in September 2006 (read my holiday blog about it). Here is an extract on how I felt when I saw this wonder:

Leaving Lake Taupo and driving back to Auckland, we decided to following the route we came in and visited the Huka Falls which was one of the most popular tourist attractions. We saw why. The Huka Falls, although not exactly of the stature of Niagara, is in fact a torrent of sparklingly purified blue water that emanates from the Lake Taupo. Huka Falls is worth visiting even if it is not as magnificent because the sight of pure blue rushing water is something good to behold.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Calm Before the Storm

I happened to be across the road from the MCA Headquarter this morning attending a meeting. Today is the nomination day for candidates vying for the various positions of president, deputy president, vice presidents and central committee members. I expected the road (Jalan Ampang) to be jammed with MCA members who have come to render their supports to their candidates but the road was unusually jam free this Monday morning (about 11am). Perhaps all the actions were happening inside when I snapped this picture from the conference room where my meeting was held.

THIS report explained that the first nomination was only filed at 1.20pm which explains the lack of activities. However, the week running up to the election day on March 28 will surely display sparks and thunder as we await what the candidates will say to help win themselves a place in the coveted top echelon of this battle-weary political party that many Chinese are writing off as irrelevant. Let's wait and see if there will be really a time of unity and unification.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Water Day!

Over the past 2 weeks I had been mulling over changing the process of purifying my incoming water supply. Over the last 10 years I was dependent on the 5 micron sediment filters ex-main supply to stabilise the incoming raw water quality. The least I hope for was that the laundry would not be yellowed and the toilet cisterns unstained by rust in the water. In a way this process had been helpful but I had to be vigilant in checking that the filters are washed and replaced regularly, otherwise some sediments would pass through into the water storage tanks. Over time the process would become tedious for me so here I was contemplating if I should improve on this pre-filtration process. For drinking and cooking purposes, the pre-filtered water will be membrane filtered again through the reverse osmosis process. Many years ago, some 15 years ago in fact, I was using the distillation to purify water for consumption but found the process very tedious so I changed.

I was looking for a media filtration system to remove solid sediments. Removal of chlorine is not on my mind as I do not believe chlorine should be remove at such an early stage since the dechlorinated water in the storage tanks will be vulnerable to bacteria and fungus growth. What I am looking for would be of the same process as what the sediment filters do except that this system will incorporate backwash and will last 5 years or more before the media need to be changed. I am looking for convenience as much as a more effective system. After checking around I decided to trust a branded product rather than one that may not have a reliable after sale service. Think of it, I am putting my health on the line!

I decided on the Waterco deep bed filtration using zeoplus, a mineral sand from volcanic areas in Australia. Zeoplus was claimed to have excellent porosity and therefore able to trap and retain sediments.

Having made an appointment with the local agent I waited for him to arrive with the W250 model which is suitable for domestic filtration. Over 3 hours he installed the cylinder, poured in 40kg of zeoplus, built the connecting pipes and valves and pressure gauge, asssembled the unit and flushed out the fine zeoplus residue until the water is clear enough to be piped into my house. In the meantime 2 workers were at the storage tanks cleaning out the 10 year old sediments inside. While they were not ugly they were not pretty either. The water was brownish while not as bad as Starbuck coffee. Still it is always good to start a new system on a clean slate, rather, clean tank.

The water supply now is better than before. All I need to do is once every month to backwash the zeoplus to ensure a steady supply of clean water.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Are Bad Women Drivers On The Rise?

When I read THIS news report I thought I had to write this post. I have seen several cases of bad women drivers, so much so that whenever I see a bad driver ahead I would throw a bet to my wife that it will most likely be a woman, and it turns out to be usually true (or else a senior male driver).

I am not saying that all woman drivers are bad, just that I am seeing so many of them that I begin to question their driving skills. Some women drivers are very safe, so safe that they drive so slowly that they slow down traffic flow. But there are those who are reckless and it is this category that is worrying because I seldom encounter reckless female drivers before. I wonder if having jobs made them impatient that they have to rush? Or family issues that stress them out? Or is it poor civic education? Or peer pressure? Multitasking while behind the wheel? I hate to be biased but perhaps women do indeed have slower reactions to difficult driving situations. I hope I am not triggering some annoyance.

I have seen some women drivers driving very slowly or suddenly overtaking dangerously (as if they own the road) and I was shocked that they are so short that they were actually peering up from the dashboard! With such poor visibility I can understand why they drove slow but shouldn't they have raised their car seats? The law should disallow such people from getting licence to drive in the first place as they endanger other drivers.

The above scenario may reflect the unique ways Malaysians drive as a recent report HERE suggest the OPPOSITE view, that women drivers in Europe are actually safer and less aggressive than men. One reason is that they drive shorter distances than men. But in the States it was found that teenage girls tend to be riskier than boys according to THIS survey on driving habits of young people carried out in 2009.

With inconclusive evidence whether men are really better drivers or women poorer drivers, let's read what some readers said HERE.

Ask and Ye Shall Be Given

People going about seeking donations are sometimes viewed as pesky beggars. That is a very unkind prejudice. I have seem many ordinary folks walking the streets and shops with collection boxes and appeal for public donations. A recent case occurred 2 months ago soon after the Haiti earthquake struck and there were many volunteers from a local Buddhist association who donned their association uniforms and spreaded out in the local market place and eateries with boxes to collect monies for the devastated victims. This popular practice from Taiwan has made its way to Malaysia. However I sometimes wonder if the money collected really get to where they should be sent. I have also encountered people carrying folders showing pictures of health strickened or physically deformed people together with letters of endorsement from politicians as well as news reports, appealing for donations. While I don't deny such people are in real help their situations could have been manipulated by unscrupulous people to make money for themselves. It is a tough decision to give or not to give when approached. Sometimes it depends on one's mood. In most developed countries these appeals are disallowed but in Malaysia it is quite common. There are even 'monks' going round begging alms. I suppose Malaysians are known for their charitable hearts that conmen are taking advantage. Personally I want to know for a fact that if I help my donations actually go where they will be put to right and good use.

Having written the above I now have to wear my hat backward and position myself as the asker rather the giver. The organization that I head is starting a fund raising appeal to repair and equip the new centre we bought recently. When ready the new cantre will be able to take in additional 20+ new trainees with learning disabilities. We need cash and equipment. A charity golf tournament will be held in May this year to help raise funds. Later in the year a fund raising dinner will be organized.

I do not expect donors to believe all I say, but expect they call to verify or visit us to see the real work of training being given to the present group of 25 young people under our care. I believe that we ought to share what we have with others. After all, will we be impoverished after we have shared? On the other hand we will be enriched when we consider that we have done good.

I am normally uncomfortable with making public appeals. I believe it is noble because I am not asking for myself but for the good of the social work I am involved. Please visit if you wish to donate via PayPal.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

But It May Help Change My Computing Life

In January 2008 I bought the Dell Vostro 1400 in preparation for a more mobile computing life. More mobile? At my age? Actually it was in preparation for the day when I may find myself unable to get up and walk the 'distance' to my home office due to backache. Which is why I decided last year to instal the wireless router to engage in this inevitable new lifestyle, which may be coming sooner than expected. The 'death' of my desktop yesterday may provide just the opportunity.

Last night I sat with Vostro in my home office installing needed softwares that I had installed on my desktop. It dawns on me that Vostro is becoming the 'camel' of the Arab and the Camel story. But spending almost RM3000 and not using the notebook for 2 years is wasteful so it looks like I am finally getting my money's worth. No matter it is Vista Business and not Windows 7. No matter if similar configuration costs cheaper. The joy is that the likelihood of Vostro breaking down is less (fingers crossed). Plus it is leaner, runs faster, and gives me a new opportunity to reorganise my data. Sort of spring cleaning.

What about Desktop? If it has to be repaired at a hefty price then it will have to be buried. Otherwise it will be the backup 'toy' for myself and my grandchildren, for now little Ling, who at 2 and half is discovering how 'useful' this new toy can be to her.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My PC Died Today

It gave signs of giving up a few times. First, it would start up normally and in the midst of working the PC would suddenly shut down. Upon restart it would behave as if nothing had happened but my PC is showing signs of wear and tear. The next symptom is the appearance of a blue screen with error messages and the Window XP refuses to load. Upon restart the warning screen disappears.

I know my PC is going to die, not the hard disks but the hardware, the motherboard. It takes a long time (2 minutes) to run Microsoft Word. My PC is telling me something, like I am old and I am doing things slow, and I am unreliable. Sure I will do something about it, soon.

This morning my PC decided that my 'soon' has to be 'now'. It launched Windows normally but shut down in the midst of my work. When I restarted it there was no welcome screen. It was just black starring back at me. I tried several times, even use the safe mode, but my PC refuses to do anymore work. I brought it to my vendor to check and repair. I expect a quick repair: change the motherboard, swap the hard disk and run the programmes. No, the technician said it is not as simple as I think. The installed programmes and Windows XP are sync'd to the motherboard so when it is changed the entire Windows operating system and the application programmes must be reinstalled. I am looking at a 24 hours of wasted time to rebuild my repaired or new PC.

Isn't there a better way to recover from a painful hardware death? Softwares are the soul and hardware the body. Can they be made to be standalone? I look forward to the day when I just dock my OS hard disk with all the programmes installed into any PC and it will run without any tweaking or reconfiguring. I am sure it can be done. Maybe it is not done so some companies can make money by forcing users to reinstal newer versions of the softwares. Is there a conspiracy?

Anyway my PC died and I am hoping that I need not have to bury it, but reuse it after repairing or replacing the faulty hardware. In moments like this I am a firmer believer of NOT depending on localised softwares and data storage. Luckily I can retrieve all my emails from Gmail and carry on my work uninterrupted.

MCA Musical Chair

I almost titled this post the MCA Circus which may just turn out to be the case when nomination closes in 6 days. Ong Tee Keat was the first to declare his intention to defend the presidency. Chua Soi Lek and Liow Tiong Lai choose to wait and see. Youth leader Wee Ka Siong also wait and see. Wanita leader Chew Mei Fun also wait and see. Incumbent Ng Yen Yen said she will stand for VP again. In the midst of power pairing and lobbying former president Ong Ka Ting has declared his comeback. For a man who shares the same name initials as the incumbent this decision must have come with much deliberation. Unless the party is in such dire strait no former leader will resurrect himself, so OKT return to the fray is interpreted as offering to restore the dignity and unity of MCA, which is a good move.

Of course OKT decision upset some equations and threaten some current leaders political future so he is not welcomed by certain factions. But he is going for the presidency. For now it is clearly a fight between OTK versus OKT. Chua Soi Lek is surely upset. He cannot stand for the deputy presidency. It is meaningless, otherwise why does he have to resign? His resigning means he has to go for the presidency. OTK defending it makes CSL work harder. OKT coming in makes his chance slimmer, so CSL is angry and upset although he and his supporters may not openly admit. But OKT's return will spoil OTK's chance of retaining his position. As I see it the presidency will be a 3-way fight.

Today VP Kong Cho Ha decided to go for DP, in expectation that CSL will go for the presidency. His challenger is most likely Liow Tiong Lai who is unlikely to stay put with his VP position. LTL is a man in a hurry to climb the political ladder. OKT's brother Ong Ka Chuan has not given his notice yet on contesting. If he does it will likely be for the DP post which will make it a 3-way fight as well.

When the music stops, who will get to sit on the two top chairs? In 6 days we will see the future a little clearer.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Good Hair Day

Read HERE first.

After 2 months for my scanty hair to grow back I decided it is time to try my luck at my barber shop. Actually I have wanted to keep it growing for another week because while it is long, it is not that long as to irritate me, but next week I am suppose to see the Menteri Besar (chief minister) to appeal to his generosity to help our charity golf tournament that will raise money to help build our new centre. More details HERE. So I have to look presentable or I risk not getting any assistance. If you play golf please consider joining. Thanks.

When I arrived at the barber shop I was dismayed that that very punky looking guy who razed my head 2 months ago, he was waiting outside for a customer, and I was he. I walked in, avoiding him, and hoped to find another barber waiting for business. I'd gladly use him even if I had not be snipped before but the other barber was already cutting the hair of a boy. I sank into the available barber chair and punky came after me. What can I do? Either I walked away and come back another time or risk another bad hair job. I decided to risk it.

So I said to him, 'Trim saja. Gunting.' That means he is only to cut away a 'little' hair and to use scissor, not an electric trimmer. The last time he used an electric trimmer that worked like a fast lawn mower giving me no chance to protest that he mowed more than he should. A scissor works slower and I can control any damage. I watched nervously as the hair clippings fell on the sheet covering me.

Shortly a short older man walked in. I immediately recognized him as the owner for he had cut my hair several months ago, and he did a nice job. I complained to Mr Dass the disastrous visit 2 months ago and said I'd love to have him cut my hair since 'older barber cut older men's hair better'. He said sure and gave me his number. His whispered some Tamil to punky and it worked. My hair received a decent treatment and 20 minutes later I walked out quite satisfied that this time my hair had not been murdered like it was 2 months ago.

I can walk tall, until my next haircut at least.

Pix Note: THIS is definitely NOT me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

As defined HERE I think prime minister is really stuck in a tough spot. If he choose to disagree as regards to the 3rd vote issue he is damned. If he agrees with it, he is damned too. Read what the chief minister of Penang says HERE.

He himself may not be blamed entirely for the delicate state of affair faced by the Barisan government but look how it had steered itself into this tight and checkmated corner. If ever it loses the next general election it deserves it for not heeding public opinions and making too many wrong judgments recently.

The people gave the country to Barisan in every of the 12 general elections held since 1957. Now they are unsure if that was the wise decision. They want answers and accountability.

The people gave most states to Barisan in every state and general elections held. In 2008, Pakatan won back 5 states but Barisan wrangled one back in 2009. The people are questioning if the Pakatan states are doing better than under Barisan before. Results are encouraging.

Now Pakatan states of Penang and Selangor want to hand power back to the people at the local level to elect their councillors. Empowering the citizens can be dangerous because they can make or break you. Pakatan leaders are willing to take the risk but not Barisan. The choice is with the prime minister and he is worried now.

Agree to the 3rd vote will send the power back to the people who can remove Barisan more easily since many little Barisan Napoleons at local levels can be wiped out and that can trigger a bad reaction against the top leadership. Disagree to the 3rd vote will not quell the frustrations but delay the anger to the next general election which may create a bigger upset than 2008.

I don't envy Najib. He may carry the label of being the last Barisan PM to lose the government to Pakatan after 50+ years of continuous rule. What a place to be caught in and what will he choose? Either way he cannot win. The tsunami is approaching and there is no where to hide.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Do We Need the 3rd Vote?

In recent years there have been a huge clamouring for citizens to have a say in who are chosen to run the local councils that manage out cities, towns and villages. Obviously those who are appointed have not been doing a good job, or even doing their jobs at all, that the standard of living have fallen. Under the Barisan government that ruled every state except Kelantan until 2008 general election, the push for local council election never made any headway because the government will not want to surrender the right to choose to the people, rather they appoint their own people, some call them cronies, which may be unkind as some of the councillors are really professionally qualified and trying their best although under an organization structure that is all so politically connected and hence hardly efficient or productive.

Today the clamour for this 3rd vote has resurfaced all because in Penang which is run by the Pakatan state government, they believe that people ought to have a say and choose those they think can do a better job. There are many concerned people, including professionals, who care enough to want to serve to make their city, town and even their state a better, cleaner, safer and healthier place to live and work in. If the opportunity is given for them to stand for election to serve in their local councils surely many will respond, even those who have retired will be willing to offer their experience and knowhow. Availing the 3rd vote can only provide a better answer to what travailed us, a system that is not workable because it is too political.

So it puzzles me why the prime minister says HERE that it will not work because of politiking. I would like to ask the question why is this so? Wasn't the Barisan government responsible for the present state of affair? Why resist an idea simple because it came from the Opposition? Can't he just be man enough to accept a good idea even if it came from Lim Guan Eng, the chief minister of Penang? It horrifies me that Barisan government will only consider suggestions from their own parties, but now, for the sake of regaining popularity, also from the people, as if to show how much the government cares for their views. How will the government know that the people's ideas and views are not also like those from Pakatan? Good ideas are not the rights of Barisan nor bad ideas are from Pakatan. It is time Najib Razak learn to distinguish this.

Malaysians would like to be given a say in how the country is being run. Letting us decide how our towns are being run would be a good first step.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Recalling 8.3.2008

It was the polling day. Days earlier I had checked where my voting station was. This particular morning, about 10am after we have had our breakfast in Garden Homes, Seremban 2, my wife and I made our way to the SMK Bukit Kepayang, got our queue numbers and dutifully lined up to get inside our room where we will cast our votes to elect our member of parliament and our state assemblyman. This was the chance we can do what we like about the political future of the candidates. I said this to the guy ahead of me in the queue, 'Today we are their bosses!' Indeed we are. I remember seeing the candidates and their supporters greeting us and gesticulating us to vote for them. Of course we smiled and showed our 'support'. Deep inside we have made our mind.

On this election we are judging the government of Ahmad Badawi who succeeded Mahathir Mohamad, 4th prime minister since 1981. Most people would not know of any other PM so when Mahathir retired all the hopes for reform fell upon Badawi's shoulders. Upon taking office he rallied the people to 'work with him, not for him'. We felt encouraged and in 2004 at the 11th general election we sent him a landslide victory. We gave him 198 out of 220 seats in parliament. That was 90% majority. The opposition parties were sunk. Malaysians were euphoric and began to wait for the promised changes.

We waited, waited, waited. The changes never come, and our patience grew thin and our temper short. From 2004 to 2007 Badawi allow public expression of racial and religious sentiments. Blogs and online news portals flourished. All the years of suppressed anger and frustrations were vented in cybersphere. It was scary reading how some Malaysians felt. Some of the views were very venomous, inciteful and racist. We don't know if these comprise a large segment of the population or just a bunch of trouble makers. They can inflame and cause riots through rumour mongering. Truthfully some of these angers are justified. Badawi did not carry our his reform promises and the people were disappointed and were waiting to vent their anger. 8th March 2008 was the moment.

I could see the Barisan candidate for my constituency fidgeting and nervous. He was a little hot at the collar when he barked into his handphone at his staff for not getting a job done in time. I guess he knew his chance of regaining his seat was slim. On the other hand the opposition candidate was smiling and confident. He was a new man, young and inexperienced.

That day, a huge majority of voters in my constituency gave the opposition a big mandate. It was a disastrous outing for the Barisan candidate, although he did not lose his deposit, but he suddenly discover that he will no longer walk about and greet people as a YB (Yang Berhormat). Today he is just a regular guy but he is OK. He was in the wrong party at the wrong time. If he is with the opposition he can regain his political life.

That night I had my television on and internet connection to Malaysiakini made to follow the progress of the vote counting. Malaysiakini gave guests a free one week log in and I was one of them. Before the week was out I decided to become a subscriber.

It was a most memorable night. I munched peanuts and tidbits as my son-in-law and I traded updates, he from SinChew and I from Malaysiakini. The television stations kept screening old scores. They were hiding viewers from the truth that Barisan has been given a bad trashing by the opposition. The final results showed Barisan capturing 140 seats and the opposition 82 seats in Parliment. This translate to 63%, a far cry from the 90% it collected in 2004. With this Barisan failed to capture 2/3 majority that it need to pass laws.

The next morning I woke late but felt good. I thought that people power had indeed come to us. We have tasted it and now we must not relinquish the right to taste it again and again. It is the people power that will steer the nation where we want.

March 8, 2008 was the great awakening. I just hope that we don't fall into slumber. What happened in the last 2 years gave us clear signs that we must be even more alert and exercise our power more critically when the time come for the 13th general election. The clarion call now is to those young Malaysians who are qualified to vote for the first time:


A relevant read HERE. Young voters or those yet to register, please read this IMPORTANT ARTICLE.

The MCA Shakeup

Looks like there are plenty of shaking up in Malaysian politics. In almost all the major parties there have been leadership changes in the past year. Yea, today is the 2nd anniversary of the biggest shakeup of all: Malaysians decided to vote Barisan Nasional out of its 2/3 majority and voted in Pakatan Rakyat in 5 states (one of which is now snatched back, unconstitutionally, if I may add).

2 days ago, Dr Chua Soi Lek, the deputy president of MCA decided (I think it was pre-planned) to resign together with 7 other central committee members. Earlier on, before Christmas last year, vice president Liow Tiong Lai who was contending against president Ong Tee Keat for fresh election had submitted undated resignation letter with 12 other commitee members. Upon receiving news that CSL and gang had resigned, LTL and gang activated their resignations as well, making the total resignations of 21 which is enough to trigger a fresh election as provided for by the party's constitution.

The past 48 hours has been a time of shame and immaturity that MCA ought to be embarassed. AGMs for the Youth wing was cancelled due to lack of quorum (which suggest leader Dr Wee Ka Siong to have a powerful hold) but the Women's wing managed to get slightly more than the quorum and met (it also suggest leader Chew Mei Fun to be still strong but some resistance leaning towards the party president exists). The party's AGM proceeded in spite of calls to postpone it. Attendance was poor and the BN president/prime minister declined to attend and give his speech, which is a snub at OTK, more so a snub at the party that purportedly represents the Malaysian Chinese. Will this be interpreted that PM is insensitive? Or taking sides? Pakatan may play this up to win more Chinese votes.

As it is the election fixed for March 28 will surely see changes in the top party leadership. OTK says he plans to contest and this may be a harakiri for him if the test of confidence at the EGM held last October is an indication. Since then many people have questioned if OTK is really as sincere and effective as he appeared and this will rob him of some support.

Why did CSL resign? I thought there was this Greater Unit Plan hatched up between him and OTK. Obviously something was brewing that has not been made public. Perhaps new alliances have been reforged. Whatever, CSL resigning means either he plans to retire or go for broke, the presidency, which will pit him against OTK should he re-contest. One will be sent into oblivion and likely the person is OTK. This will mean the DVD actor will be justified.

Where does LTL stands in this power reshuffle? He held the deputy presidency for about a fortnight until the Registrar of Societies held that CSL was legally still the deputy. In the fresh election it is unlikely LTL to stick his neck to gun for the presidency. Too risky and he may lose as many MCA members view him as an opportunist. Better to stay as vice president (undoable, he has to move up) or contest as deputy (he had been there, a better decision). Chances are he will team up with CSL on the same ticket for president/deputy president. A likely winning formula but not a scenario Malaysia Chinese like. Still we accept MCA need leaders no matter how unworthy they may appear.

Will WKS stay put or run for a vice president post? I'll put my bet on the latter. He and LTL are close so if LTL moves up he will go for the vacancy. CMF? I'm not sure her plan. A VP post is unlikely since Ng Yen Yen will likely recontest her present post and she is more senior and the only woman representative in the Supreme Council. If CMF tries for that she won't have the clout to boot out NYY. I think she should stay put as Wanita's chief and wait another 5 years.

I won't speculate on Kong Cho Ha. He may want to play safe and stay as VP which guarantees his re-election, and perhaps retaining his ministerial post. If he tries for deputy it will be a great risk for a loss will mean losing every other posts. As for the other VP, he is so inconspicuous that I cannot remember his name (Tan Kok Hong?), I think he should just step away and decline nomination. Opportunists will surely emerge like vultures to test their chances. One of them, Donald Lim, who cannot even hold a debate, said he will try for the deputy post. I think he is a spoil sport. Perhaps go for a central committee post where he stands a better chance.

MCA's shakeup will not necessarily position it as a better party. Of worry is whether the new lineup will sideline the Port Klang Free Zone scandal investigation which has been OTK's thrust in the past year he was in office. In the end many people will be happy to see OTK out but years from now we may regret not supporting a person who wants corrupt politicians and public servants convicted for their crimes. For whatever a person's flaws and weaknesses we should see his mission instead.

The new MCA leadership may hurt Barisan's chance of winning the 13th general election if the Chinese are less confident that it will do a better job than OTK.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The Maid Disappears

In my post HERE, I raised my hope that our new maid will be the kind of person we want her to be and that the impression we received in the week she was with us would conform to what we will see in the future. Alas this was not to be as appearance can be deceptive. We learned a lesson when we suddenly heard from the agent that she has ran away 2 days ago while in the agent's office. We asked why would she do that when there were no reasons we know of that could compel her to take a risk to jump, having spent thousands of ringgits (millions of Indonesian rupiahs) to come over. At this point she has not even secured her work permit so she is in effect illegally here. We treated her as well as we could, making sure she adapt to the new environment without pressuring her. We thought if she could have done so in cahoot with the agent to get a better paid job elsewhere but when my daughter and husband viewed the CCTV footage it became clear that she had planned to make her escape by faking her illness and avoiding some medical tests. She rummaged the agent's office and found her passport and escape with it. In her documents we found photos of male friends/relatives which made us now believe she plan to join him/them here. What she did to us is now forcing us into repair mode, to find a replacement, some inconvenience to us but we will adjust. We have now joined hundreds if not thousands of other frustrated maid employers who had faced similar woes and will emerge the wiser. We learn never to trust appearance, even work performance shown in the early days of employment of what will be in the future. What the maid is today cannot be trusted to be what she will be tomorrow. The experience would be unfair but unavoidable to future maids who can be more reliable and trustworthy but a few bad maids are indeed spoiling the impressions of good ones.

Why is this happening? Perhaps life in Malaysia is worth taking a gamble as it is seen to be a paradise compared to rural Indonesia. Perhaps it is out of love to elope. Perhaps maids have been lured into better jobs with better pays by unscrupulous agents. Whatever the reason it is a violation of employment contract made in good faith by the employer with the maid who failed to abide by their terms. By not even serving a month and then running away cast a very negative image of the sort of maids we are getting from Indonesia. People have advised that we should do away with maids if possible. To many of us, we included, we do need a maid to tide over the next few years. Unless a better option or solution emerges I think we as well as many others in our shoes will continue to take the risk of being victimised by runaway maids.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

It's Official - Fuel Subsidy OFF

THIS report says it all and I may just want to respell the headline from Tiered Fuel Plan to Tired Fuel Plan since many of us drivers are just tired, frustrated and annoyed over the manner this project was thought out and implemented. One lingering question that sets off a trigger is this: Who bears the cost of the project viability study? And if any equipment and softwares have been designed, developed and paid for, who is accountable for their squander? Somehow I cannot help but feel the presence of corruption here. Maybe I am biased but why should the government after making such a huge fanfare suddenly whimper out with a simple press release? The minister has plenty of explaining to do.

Other reports HERE and HERE.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

ER - Malaysian Politics

A patient is coming in, get ready for emergency procedure. Who is he? In Malaysia I am speaking of Pakatan Rakyat, the opposition coalition, and specifically Keadilan, one of the 3 component parties that was started by Anwar Ibrahim. Keadilan is bleeding. Just yesterday another of its lawmakers has resigned. Read HERE. Hell, I am not surprised and I won't be surprised if a few more resign. After being around for this long I see such developments as normal. In any organization all sorts of people will join you and later some will leave when they find they either cannot fit in or you don't fit them. Some want to use you, some want to contribute. As long as what the organization pushes is popular there will be others who will come aboard, it just takes time to get the right people.

If I may make a prediction here, it is that while confidence ebbs low for Pakatan/Keadilan now, the time will soon come when they will arise and find more support when the Barisan political model becomes unsavory and untrustworthy. We just have to wait patiently and not give up hope. In the ER of Malaysian politics the patient will not die. Paramedics and doctors are already on call to save him.

What goes up must come down.
What goes down will come up.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Pakatan Shakeup

Over the past month Pakatan has been in the news for the wrong reasons. Coalition members infighting and resignations have weakened the struggling opposition coalition that we Malaysians sorely need to strengthen our political system and combat the evil government of the day. Latest development HERE. It has been an unhealthy 52 years of self rule that created an atmosphere of arrogance and abuse. Nearly 2 years ago, on March 8, 2008 to be precise, Malaysian voters sent a warning to the incumbent ruling coalition Barisan Nasional that enough is enough, that either they transform or they will be sent back into political oblivion. Although BN did not lose it nonetheless lost its 2/3 majority that it has gotten used to for most of its half century rule. Did BN learn in the last 23 months? Did it try to reform to meet the wishes of the voting population? If anything, it has become even more arrogant, and many voters are just sick and waiting for the next opportunity to deliver their ultimatum.

Pakatan stepped into political limelight soon after the 12th general election on March 8, 2008 but could not fill the shoes we clapped them to step into. The truth is Pakatan never dreamt of winning that many seats in Parliament nor expect to capture 5 states (It lost Perak through unconstitutional scheme of Barisan Nasional in February 2009). If they failed to deliver the performance expected of them it is understandable and its supporters should not dismay. Not just for lack of suitable candidates and qualified leaders but also for the incessant attacks and sabotage it faces from Barisan's massive media machinery, police and judiciary support. The recent fallout of several Pakatan leaders and ex-leaders may even be the work of Barisan's destroyer team. Putting its leader Anwar Ibrahim under another sodomy charge caps Barisan's attempt to bring down Pakatan by cutting off its head and the scenario is dismaying but all is not lost. There are still good leaders and there are still willing supporters cheering them forward.

For now Pakatan may be wearing a loser's cap but the stirring and silent support it is receiving means one thing: Pakatan will not be written off. Malaysia need a viable opposition. That opposition was born 2 years ago and we are not about to watch it die this easily. My appeal is for those who are politically inclined, able to serve for at least one term and sharing Pakatan's spirit and vision for the Malaysia we long for, to step out to be counted. Muslims, Hindus, Christians or Buddhists - go for the torch and run the race with Pakatan to win the nation for our children and grandchildren. The time is now. Do not let the Pakatan shakeup demoralise us but rather embolden us to see that it is a necessary development to weed out those opportunists within as well as those irrelevant to the common cause of the coalition.

If you want your team to win, don't just be spectators. Get down into the field and play to strengthen its winning chance.


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