Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Selling Out The People's Interest

Lynas Corp has finally came out with a thinly veiled threat against any move to close its yet to be opened rare earth processing plant in Gebeng, Pahang, Malaysia. Read HERE.

The extraction of rare earths are used for THESE applications. The company boasts of zero harm and sustainable development but no where in the website did it address the concerns of people living nearby its processing plants of potential health hazards caused by leakages of radioactive wastes such as thorium. Read THIS counter view from a watch group.

Lately Lynas Malaysia has come up with a daily notice in the newspaper again boasting of its clean health and safety standards but concerned citizens and non-governmental organizations as well as opposition parties continue to ride on the fear factor should this largest extraction plant in the world begins operation by June this year. And riding on protests and the need to earn back public favors the government has entrusted upon the Atomic Energy Licensing Board to further tighten the terms of compliance which explain the delay in commissioning the plant from September last year.

This tagline sums it up nicely:

Malaysia is littered with ventures where profits are privatized and losses are socialized. If the people of Malaysia are not vigilant, the Lynas plant may very well turn out to be the next radiation disaster.

Although I don't live anywhere near to Gebeng I feel the anxieties of the people there as well as those living or working along the routes such rare earth by products will take by trucks. Spillages can cause widespread hazards that cannot be easily contained. Dust pollution is another reason those in the outskirt also need to worry. Again this is one foreign investment project that the government should have rejected outright from day one when its application landed on its table. No one know, until it is dug out years later, if the approval is laced with some sweetener. It is again a project that goes against public interest which the government ought to ask why did Lynas decided to come to Malaysia instead of processing its goods in Australia itself, or did it investigated if Lynas applied elsewhere and was rejected?

I think Mr. Curtis, Lynas Corp chairman, threat and insinuation that Malaysia will lose out in foreign investment is unjust and unfounded. Any foreign investor will look at the host country's standard of public healthcare to decide if it will be favorable received. Also if the investment is entirely for monetary reason or does it help boost national development through skills transfer besides job creation. If the government doesn't care for its people then what make these investors believe that it will care for them in the long term? A good investor enters a host nation on a partnership to bring benefits for both itself and the locals. A company that is socially responsible should not operate anywhere near residential communities especially where it deals with hazardous products and by products. I wonder why Lynas did not operate on an isolated island instead but of all places choose Malaysia. To the people in and around Gebeng, it seems like they have been bombed by a timeless threat and they can do nothing about it unless a strong political will arise to dismantle the plant and shift it out. If this doesn't get the voters there to vote for the Opposition I don't know what will.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

WCE Smells Scandal

Last Tuesday when I left Sitiawan for Petaling Jaya I took the advice to avoid the North South Highway (NSE) in anticipation of the traffic jam by returnees to their homes in Kuala Lumpur, Klang Valley and the southern states of peninsular Malaysia and of course, Singapore. If I had taken the NSE I would exit either Bidor or Sungkai toll and exposed myself to the trap along the Tanjong Malim to Rawang stretch. My alternative was to take the coastal roads to Sungei Besar, Sekinchan, Tanjong Karang, Kuala Selangor and Klang from where I would take the Federal Highway to my PJ destination. I depended on my GPS to lead the way as I hardly use the coastal roads at all.

Past Kuala Selangor, at Bukit Rotan, a signage said to Shah Alam using the LATAR Expressway (which links Kuala Selangor to Kuala Lumpur). Shah Alam is between Klang and Petaling Jaya so would be a good via point to head to. Furthermore I've never used LATAR and made the spot decision to miss Klang to use LATAR instead. It was a good decision as I found LATAR smooth driving and I paid only RM4 toll all together (I stand corrected as I was concentrating on whether I made the right choice). My only concern was linking up LATAR to wherever it leads me to to take me to PJ. I saw signboards that pointed to Rawang, Sungei Buloh and Gombak and I was worried I might be taken into Kuala Lumpur city instead of bypassing it south to PJ. Following my GPS faithfully I suddenly discovered myself merging into a heavy traffic flow along a highway my wife quickly identified as the NSE. Now I must admit my sense of direction is poor and it took me a few minutes to recognize the scenery as those before the Sungei Buloh Rest Area with the overhead bridge where we often stop over for early Burger King lunch whenever we travel north to either Sitiawan or Ipoh. From there on I got my bearing right.

The trip took me longer as it involved driving on trunk roads mostly but it saved me on toll, as well as on distance. So on the whole I benefited, especially from not encountering any traffic jam. The anticipated construction of the West Coast Expressway or WCE will certainly make driving much smoother and faster, dispersing traffic to it from the NSE so travelers will encounter less likelihood of congestion especially during festival traveling. When the WCE is completed I would link directly to it from Sitiawan and bypass Sungei Besar, Sekinchan, Tanjong Karang and Kuala Selangor. It will be an entirely highway drive to Banting where I am sure later on another coastal highway will be built to link it southward to Port Dickson and Melaka. Also noteworthy is Banting is only about 30km from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. I am sure motorists welcome the new highway but the recent announcement HERE and the reactions HERE and HERE make concerned citizens worried that the terms of concession are again lopsided to the disadvantage of the highway users. Whose interest are the government looking after? The concessionaire's or the road users? Are the terms unreasonable to the users? Are there hidden factors we don't know of that need to be exposed and discussed publicly? I am not against profit making but since the days when former PM Mahathir decided to privatize several public utility projects like road constructions, electricity and water supplies and telecommunication service, Malaysians had suffered into paying more than if they were managed by the government instead. Privatization absolved the government from actually operating and providing these essential services to business entities from whom they collect taxes and other form of income (I leave that to your imagination) which such businesses must find creative ways to make provision for. In the process the 'victims' are the people in general due to the high costs of using the services (former Works Minister Samy Velu I remember said we should not complain of paying toll as it gave us convenience and a faster, and shorter, traveling time to our destinations). I would think it should be any good government's responsibility to raise the people's standard of living by saving time and expenses.

The awarding of building and operating WCE to a company without a track record smells like a scandal brewing, a little like the National Feedlot Centre which is smack in a public outcry for mismanaging the funds loaned by the government. The NFC too has no track record of running a cattle business. My question is this. Why is the government blundering again and again into such nefarious practices openly and exposing itself to further criticism? Why didn't it tender out this multi-billion ringgit project? It is becoming fodder for the Opposition as election is just months away.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Andrew Turns Two

After weeks of waiting the day finally arrives when I can say to Andrew, Happy Birthday Andrew, you are finally two. The reason for my impatience is because for the past 2 months I've watched him developed both physically and mentally that I couldn't believe that he was still a baby. But look at the above picture you will think that he is older than his biological age. He is learning to piece together a simple sentence, using my iPad with deftness of a 5 year old, and socializing with children much older than him. While still a mischievous little fella, he is adorably so. As I write this Andrew is with his father, giving me the peace to write this piece, otherwise he will be all over me. Andrew, we all love you very much for the joy, and sometimes exasperation you gave us with an innocent smirk on your face.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Dragon Cometh ...

A magnificent display of fireworks from at least 4 groups close to my mother's house greeted me as midnight approaches on the eve of the Lunar New Year last Sunday. I had equivalent of a front seat view and hear the rockets shrieking into the clear skies before exploding into sparkling stars of red, blue, green, yellow and purple. Indeed it was a rare sight. Even the locals said to me this has been the most spectacular show put up spontaneously by some residents ushering in the dragons of the new year. As if on cue, soundless but gentle, tiny kong ming lanterns floated gracefully up and in the directions of the gentle night breeze. I count at least 30 of them. I wonder if law enforcement has slackened since such lanterns can endanger low flying aircrafts. Or perhaps the police were busy looking elsewhere, or on leave. Well, it is the Chinese New Year, and I personally feel releasing such devices should be conditionally allowed. By 12.15am the intensity and frequency of display as well as blasts from firecrackers had diminished. The only other sound that filled the smokey and acrid air was from loud speakers blaring out Malay songs from a nearby hawker centre. We tried to sleep but to no avail. I cannot remember when but the music soon died down as business dwindled and the night swallowed us all into restful slumber to greet the new year morning when we awake.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Changing Reason for Chinese New Year Celebration

Nowadays Chinese New Year is celebrated for a very different reason than that of our forefathers. Back in ancient China it was called the Spring Festival, celebrated to welcome spring after a very cold wintry season especially in the north, central and western provinces where many people, especially those who are poor and living with bare necessities, waited for the snow to melt, the sun to rise and the new leaves and flower buds to bloom, and the birds to greet the new days with hearty chirps and songs. Spring was indeed a time to celebrate. It represented victory over the dark days of winter and people were glad to have survived through those months. It was, and still is a season of hope, renewal and newness where families seek to wear new clothing and shoes, spend new money, eat new food and fire crackers to chase away the gloom and welcome in light and joy. It is not surprising therefore that the Spring Festival became the New Year for the Chinese and soon people began to call it the Lunar New Year or to those western educated, the Chinese New Year.

From a celebration of rejoicing of a new life into a new season, the CNY in modern time is no longer celebrated with this in mind since many Chinese families have eradicated poverty and sufferings and have through industry, prudence and patience, brought about prosperity to their children and grandchildren. Instead the CNY is celebrated with a time of spending what they have earned and saved through hard work. It is also a time to splurge on themselves, family and relatives, implicitly to show that they are well off. As with other cultures where migration into the cities took place in search for opportunities and wealth, families are dislocated, especially old parents and those siblings who either refuse to move into the cities or are not qualified academically to find their future in the vast urban complexes that can be frightening and alienating to those so familiar to rural settings. Hence the concept of reunion was born out of necessity to touch base, to meet up with dear ones back in their home towns or villages where the new city migrants have now return home in big cars and new fashionable clothing to visit their parents and siblings and hand over fat angpows (red packets) in their annual pilgrimage home. Nowadays Chinese New Year is just another opportunity and occasion to break away from work, go back to their roots, or to some better off financially, go holidaying in faraway places, perhaps to escape having to distribute red packets! This mass migration have also affected the non-Chinese who take similar advantage to 'balik kampong' or 'go back to the village' and the coming week will see roads and highways clogged with motorcycles, cars and coaches heading out of the cities into the villages, and then the reverse nightmare when it become 'balik rumah' or 'back to the homes' as the holiday break ends. Perhaps this trend will lessen in the next 10-20 year or so when aged parents either move out of their family house in the villages to live with their city children or grandchildren, or die off. Then the reason for 'balik kampong' become less relevant (except during the Ching Ming or All Souls Day season around late March/early April, but that is another story, another moment to also die off one day) and the mass exodus that is a Malaysian mad rush culture as much as in China, where highways and trains are choked with returnees to their home villages, or in the west when people get away in summer in droves. So it is a universal habit for people to get away. A thought to think further why are they so migratory.

From welcoming spring the CNY season has become one to re-establish family ties and sometimes, to meet up with old friends and former classmates who are returning to their hometowns for the common purpose of reunion. In this regard I think the Old Pupil Association of my alma mater in Sitiawan had done right in organizing the traditional OPA reunion on the evening of the first day of the CNY in the school hall. Being a lifetime member I try to make it there when I am home to see my mother at that time. Although the number of former classmates have sprinkled to just a handful it is still good to see each other in relatively good health and high spirit. We are now the rare species among the much younger 'graduates' and their children.

I will be on the road during the coming days. And I wish to take this opportunity to greet my readers who celebrate the Chinese New Year, Kung Xi Fa Cai, and may you have health, wealth, peace and prosperity this Year of the Dragon. Have a happy heart and keep well.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Direct Link into Seremban 2 Opens

After more than a month of inconvenience to motorists entering Seremban 2 the new link from the flyover bypassing the traffic light junction is opened today promising a smoother and faster entry into the growing township. I have the privilege of using it this morning and indeed the experience was so much better than being forced to queue at the traffic light junction especially during the peak off office hours. Although both flows merge into the common lanes this new link provide an alternative access to those who are entering Seremban 2 directly. Of course residents and visitors to Rasah Kemayan are also rejoicing. However there are still element of risks. Drivers are cautioned to drive slower as they enter the new ramp and to watch out for merging traffic. I expect some confusion and a scramble by motorists emerging from the northbound Seremban toll plaza and cutting right towards the flyover rather than heading down the ramp towards the traffic light junction which will be used mostly now by drivers towards Oakland and the Tesco Extra shopping mall, the Columbia Asia Medical Centre, Bukit Kepayang, U turn back to Seremban town or to the Bukit Chedang connection to the inner ring road.

Opening this new link certainly help ease traffic during the Chinese New Year traffic flow.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Old Friends Are Like Good Wine

If you drink you know what a good wine is. Not that I am a good drinker or someone who can differentiate a great wine from an ordinary one but last Friday I think I enjoyed a really good whiskey which unfortunately I only took a small glass as I have to drive long distance home. I could have drank four or five but my family would have disapproved if anything happened.

It was a pre-arranged gathering of old friends and old classmates. It is easier to make friends with those you knew but lost touch than those you don't know. Friendship grown from a familiar past is likely to be more genuine and less motivated by anything than 'it's great to be friends' feeling. Anyway, I caught an old friend, someone I last saw like mmmm in December 1965 when we waved goodbye at the end of our school year. The only reference was an old class photo. Because he stayed less than hour away from where I stay I asked, 'NCK, how about joining our pre-Chinese New Year lunch? We go together.' I was glad he responded positively. Meeting up 46 years late is better than not. I wonder how he looked like. He sounded familiar and reachable over the phone. He set the meeting point I set the time. He said to look out for a black old Mercedes of a certain number. I in return gave mine.

At the appointed time I caught him in his car waiting. I like someone who is punctual. I got off and approached him and we greeted, two people who wouldn't have recognized each other in other circumstances. NCK is as ordinary as you can imagine, in sandals and untucked in shirt, and half shaved. Right away he apologized he couldn't go and explained why, a medical appointment for a growth that needed to be treated. I was disappointed and I knew others at the lunch would too but I understood. My long lost friend is genuinely sorry he couldn't go but asked to meet in his turf, because he like me prefer to be country folks than sleek city folks in sleek cars and frequenting posh joints. I couldn't leave empty handed so spent 15 minutes finding more of his past that we, his classmates of Form 5C of ACS Sitiawan, Perak, would love to know. We really should catch up before we are caught up.

Over lunch someone brought a bottle of 18 year old Glenfiddich Scotch Whiskey to celebrate our friendship. Although I don't know everyone at the table they all seems to me like old friends. Like the whiskey that sealed up a wonderful companionship we should all the more seek out the best of our past who are still walking and bring back wonderful memories of old friendship days. I am really hoping for a class reunion on the 50th anniversary of our last school year when we studied together, played together, teased each other and enjoyed the days of our own wine and roses ...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sour Grapes

The government couldn't have reacted more dismally than justify the High Court ruling that acquitted Anwar Ibrahim as an example of judiciary independence. My foot! Would they say the same if Anwar was convicted? Here are a few reactions that immediately drew criticism and cynicism. Instead of being noble in defeat the government went on a justification exercise we don't want to hear. We want confession that the trial was a tragic mistake.

What the 901 Verdict Really Proved
Wrong Tactics
An Independent Judiciary, Really?

This is typical of many Malaysians. We love to explain why things didn't go our way and put the blame on others which is the familiar sour grape syndrome. In this case, the judge, whom at this time the Barisan government cannot openly oppose. But if they remain in power long enough the judge will soon find his career finished. But he has been both credited for his courage as well as criticized for not throwing out the case much earlier on. It is probable that he saw the change of political winds to decide in favor of Anwar, or was it his conscience against putting an innocent man down, a man who stand a chance to be the next Prime Minister! The basis for his judgement is that the prosecution did not do enough to prove that Anwar did sodomize his aide and that he wasn't convinced the DNA samples were properly taken and/or analysed. Although that itself was sufficient ground to acquit Anwar it failed to prove that Anwar was wrongly charged, or that the crime never took place. Maybe we need the 'victim' Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan to take an oath or swear upon the Koran. Perry Mason would have wrapped up the case within a few months rather than dragged for over 2 years that wasted public funds, time and shame the nation in international eyes.

Much sympathy and empathy goes to the family who suffered emotional, mental and spiritual trauma during the entire trial and approaching the judgement day. Everyone was prepared for the worst, even Anwar himself, was psychologically prepared to spend his old age in jail and his political and public life destroyed thereafter. I believe his acquittal was divinely intervened. I believe Anwar will live to restore the dignity and worth of this country we call home. I believe we should give him and his coalition a chance to rebuild Malaysia. Who else can offer this hope? After I read THIS and THIS report my faith in the institution of family and marriage is restored. Anwar's trial tested both and the entire family came away stronger than before. May we learn to value this family where father, wife and daughter can and must provide leadership to our nation. Collectively they have sacrificed more than what we can imagine.

Some readers again mooted the idea of Nurul Izzah (Anwar's eldest daughter) as our next Prime Minister. I say why not? Six months ago I've blogged giving my support. She have the maturity, balance, in-depth thinking and perseverance that even politicians twice her age cannot compare. And she is good-looking, a refreshing sight for a new leadership we sorely need.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Anwar Freed!

It is with great joy that I read that Anwar Ibrahim has been freed from the charges of sodomizing his former aide due to doubtful evidence. Read HERE.

It is indeed a miracle. Nearly everyone except Anwar's lead lawyer, Karpal Singh, who is also DAP's chairman, felt Anwar will go to jail. Indeed 2012 has begun with great excitement and political possibilities. The game plan has changed and Pakatan Rakyat has scored a major psychological and moral victory over Barisan in its quest to wrestle control of Putrajaya from Barisan. With Anwar freed ends a 2 year bitter sweet tussle between Najib Razak and Anwar Ibrahim. On the sideline, Malaysian voters watch with keen interest how the coming weeks and months will be played out. The big question is whether Najib will delay calling the 13th general election to recoup his position? Or will the delay further strengthen Anwar's bid to topple him? It is indeed a tough choice which must be made sooner or later.

Looks like the 901 Free Anwar Campaign has succeeded beyond expectation although the turnout was well below its 100,000 target.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Windsty's Windows 7 TuneUp Suite

The first thing that impresses me is the number of invalid registry entries this utility program uncovered. I have three other registry cleaners in my PC and each of them detected anything between 20 to 200 but this program detected over 3000! Awesome! It shows its awesome power in digging up what other similar programs fail to accomplish. Since having a clean and slim registry is paramount to fast startup and quick access to programs installed, the TuneUp Suite is a must for all Windows 7 PC users.

Apart from the registry cleaner this nifty utility that is only 1.33Mb in size packs a bomb in other features such as junk files cleaner and duplicate files finder. The layout is neat and easily applied by even a novice to ensure his computer is organized and primed to perform at its peak.

There is a module to analyse the storage disks in the PC, a smart uninstaller to quickly uninstall any programs that does not meet the need of the user, a registry defragmenter to improve the access time to this file, an optimizer to speed up startup as well as manage those services that are essential. The developer even describe briefly the function of each service to help you decide to disable it, set to run manually or automatically. It is very user friendly. Lastly there is a history cleaner to help you manage your privacy on the Net.

The TuneUp Suite is very fast. It takes split second to launch and does its job in a hurry which I like. It is a very good program for anyone who wish to have a single software to house-keep his PC to run efficiently. You can learn more by visiting THIS webpage.

Andrew, Darling of the Girls

Yesterday was the last day of the first week in kindergarten. It was Grace 3rd day (her class started only on Wednesday) and yesterday was Andrew's 2nd day inside the kindergarten to wait for his sister to finish class. As we were a little early we allowed him to explore the compound and soon he wandered into a waiting zone where a group of 4-5 year old were gathered to be dismissed. Andrew confidently removed his sandals and strode into the room and started socializing with the kids more than twice his age. My wife and I watched in both amazement and amusement. He is more matured and sociable than some nursery kids, some of whom were still crying. Based on his exposure he can even join the kindergarten now but being still UNDER 2 years old we have to keep him at home for another year.

Before leaving he cheekily waved goodbye and high five the staff. Grace on the other hand is more reserved but slowly opening up.

Friday, January 06, 2012

On the Sixth Day of New Year ...

our good friends gave to us ... six durians from their orchard farm. Since Christmas was recently over I thought I'd borrow this jingle to express the joy my wife and I felt when we received a call this morning, 'Would you like to have some durians?'. I replied 'Sure' and soon we were on our way to their house 3 minutes away together with little Andrew who always enjoy rides. Every time we said we're going out or 'kai kai' he'd immediately ran to his shoes and wore them in double quick time and be the first to the car.

My wife drove and I sat at the back with Andrew strapped to the car seat. Since January 1, it has become an offence to not strap down and the fine is RM300. We have to educate ourselves and our children to abide by this new law. Andrew quietly played with his car toys and I made a paper plane from a paper flyer to amuse him. He love planes and stuff mechanical.

Our friends greeted us and showed us a big basket of newly plucked durians. The husband said they were from his brother's orchard and to take what we want. We took randomly six. Back home, after our breakfast, I eagerly wedged them open using a cleaver and some rags to protect my palms and fingers from the thorns, and then remove the yellow pulpy seeds into clean plastic containers, irresistibly intercepting a few into our mouths to enjoy their gorgeous tastes. Even Andrew got a small introduction to this new taste but we're careful not to feed him anything beyond a sampling. After the fruits were all opened we found all but one of excellent taste. We will remember to thank our friends for the kind new year gesture. A few days ago our daughter in Petaling Jaya had also given us a tub of the same fruit which tasted as heavenly. Looks like we have a duriany start to the new year!

Saying Goodbye to the Old Year

Every year people of all nations, culture, religion and tradition come together to watch one year fade away and a new one born. While the general spirit is one of celebration, with fireworks and parties to greet the new year, we must not forget the reluctance we silently feel within to see the old year die. Good or bad, it has become our history. So how do you feel about 2011? Do you have any regrets that you did not spend enough time doing what you ought to have done? Do you feel you have overcome some challenges that will make 2011 a year to remember? Do you put it down as a year of great celebration - a birth, a graduation, a financial success, an accolade bestowed? Or did 2011 fled into your inconspicuous past as if it never existed?

As I pen this we are soon to complete our first week of 2012, how very fast time passed. In percentage we would have spent almost 2% of the new year. Yet I don't feel hopeful that the new year will be bringing much joy, beyond the fact that my wife and I will be blessed with two more grandchildren, they will outshine any other successes I may enjoy this year. As a Malaysian I feel a sense of heaviness. There is no collective unity among the races. The standard of living has deteriorated. People feel less connected and more suspicious. And you can almost sense that as a nation we have come apart. Something momentous must take place in 2012 to restore our faith that Malaysia can be great again. What will that be? Will we have the courage to fight evil with all our strength to see civilization restored to what we hope it will be?

(Added January 9, 2012)
Is the freeing of Anwar Ibrahim from the sodomy charge THE momentous moment?

When I listened to this video and watched the background scenery my soul grew weary and disappointed with humankind. We have failed to be good stewards of the world we were entrusted to look after. In our greed and selfishness we have polluted our earth that in another generation or two it may just become unlivable. It will be a powerful rendition of the traditional Auld Lang Syne that make you want to stay in the old year. Listen and enjoy. If you can in high definition. Thanks Al for the lead.

If ever we must have a common resolution this new year it should be to seek for whatever that unite and build it. If we fail to live together we will be overcome and eventually destroyed by others. Happy and United New Year, Malaysia.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Freedom and Jeff

I want to share this moving story I've just received from a friend. Sometimes the remedy of our human ills comes not from science or medicine but the comfort and companionship of another fellow creation of God, in this case an eagle. And often the favor you showed comes back in a most unexpected way.

Freedom and I have been together 11 years this summer. She came in as a baby in 1998 with two broken wings. Her left wing doesn't open all the way even after surgery, it was broken in 4 places. She's my baby.

When Freedom came in she could not stand and both wings were broken. She was emaciated and covered in lice. We made the decision to give her a chance at life, so I took her to the vet's office. From then on, I was always around her. We had her in a huge dog carrier with the top off, and it was loaded up with shredded newspaper for her to lay in. I used to sit and talk to her, urging her to live, to fight; and she would lay there looking at me with those big brown eyes. We also had to tube feed her for weeks.

This went on for 4-6 weeks, and by then she still couldn't stand. It got to the point where the decision was made to euthanize her if she couldn't stand in a week. You know you don't want to cross that line between torture and rehab, and it looked like death was winning. She was going to be put down that Friday, and I was supposed to come in on that Thursday afternoon. I didn't want to go to the center that Thursday, because I couldn't bear the thought of her being euthanized; but I went anyway, and when I walked in everyone was grinning from ear to ear. I went immediately back to her cage; and there she was, standing on her own, a big beautiful eagle.  She was ready to live. I was just about in tears by then. That was a very good day. 

We knew she could never fly, so the director asked me to glove train her. I got her used to the glove, and then to jesses, and we started doing education programs for schools in western Washington. We wound up in the newspapers, radio (believe it or not) and some TV.  Miracle Pets even did a show about us.

In the spring of 2000, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. I had stage 3, which is not good (one major organ plus everywhere), so I wound up doing 8 months of chemo. Lost the hair - the whole bit. I missed a lot of work. When I felt good enough, I would go to Sarvey and take Freedom out for walks. Freedom would also come to me in my dreams and help me fight the cancer. This happened time and time again.

Fast forward to November 2000 the day after Thanksgiving, I went in for my last checkup. I was told that if the cancer was not all gone after 8 rounds of chemo, then my last option was a stem cell transplant. Anyway, they did the tests; and I had to come back Monday for the results. I went in Monday, and I was told that all the cancer was gone.

So the first thing I did was get up to Sarvey and take the big girl out for a walk. It was misty and cold. I went to her flight and jessed her up, and we went out front to the top of the hill. I hadn't said a word to Freedom, but somehow she knew. She looked at me and wrapped both her wings around me to where I could feel them pressing in on my back (I was engulfed in eagle wings), and she touched my nose with her beak and stared into my eyes, and we just stood there like that for I don't know how long. That was a magic moment. We have been soul mates ever since she came in. This is a very special bird.

On a side note: I have had people who were sick come up to us when we are out, and Freedom has some kind of hold on them. I once had a guy who was terminal come up to us and I let him hold her. His knees just about buckled and he swore he could feel her power course through his body. I have so many stories like that.

I never forget the honor I have of being so close to such a magnificent spirit as Freedom.

Hope you enjoyed this! 

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary;
and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31 

Cancer is  a strange cell. You can go along for years in remission and then one day it pops its head up again. If you ever have it you will never be free of it. Pray for the day there will be a permanent cure.
Dear God,
I pray that You will guide someone to find a cure for cancer in 2012. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Season of Tears and Fears

I just came back from fetching my grand daughter Grace from kindergarten. It wasn't her first exposure. Last year, at the tender age of 3 years and 4 months she was inducted into a nearby kindy and after 3 months opted out because she found the environment insecure to what she enjoyed at home. She cried and was afraid but complied nonetheless. I could see that she was happy to see the session end and look forward to be home. This year her parents enrolled her in another kindy. She was put in the 5 year old class so she shouldn't be as teary or fearful as it was a year ago. Being the person she is, adapting to any new environment takes more encouragement than other kids (I believe her brother Andrew will pass with flying colour) so this morning she displayed a little of her old self. The reluctance to move from the past is evident but her courage and maturity helped the overcoming process. I saw that coming when we fetched her awhile ago. Dressed in her green kindy uniform she walked past me even as I was scanning the exit door for her. And she didn't cry nor show any anxiety. It was good and I know given a few more days she will look forward to meeting her new friends and teachers.

At the national level, although we don't hear of families crying under the current economic weather when many struggle to balance rising costs with stagnating income, we know many are afraid if they will be overwhelmed. It is indeed a season of fear in the new year. Many asked, do you think 2012 will be better? A lot of people I asked weren't sure. The outcome of the general election to be called soon may create new problems, including threats of public disorder. Even the verdict of Anwar Ibrahim's Sodomy II case next Monday will create some impact. Then there is the caution of how the Eurozone financial crisis will be contained, if it can be. Most likely we will affected negatively. Hence the fear that we are heading into turbulence.

How do you manage uncertainties? I take the advice of how you manage hydro-planing to be applied in our home and national lives. Don't brake! Hold the steering wheel tight. Release the accelerator and gentle tap the brake pedal to ease the car into control again. Do not fear.

In the season of uncertainty, do not fear. Don't over-react but keep your routine steady. Reduce your spending, avoiding what is unnecessary and gradually pull your financial management back to control. Don't speed (overspend) but maintain what you are capable of (live according to your means, skills and capabilities) and you will be shielded from clouds of rainy days.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Our Own Judas Iscariot?

The year begins with a bang. Malaysia Today online news portal administrator and author Raja Petra Kamaruddin or RPK as he was popularly known in Malaysian politics after the debacle of the 12th General Election on 8 March 2008 became betrayer, much like Judas Iscariot who accepted 30 pieces of silver from the chief priests to betray Jesus in the garden of Getsemane and have him arrested and put to death. While RPK may not go the way of Judas Iscariot, who was remorseful for turning against his master, his act has already been watched, seen and despised as despicable. Overnight his credibility plummeted into negative territory. It puts to shame how a human being who had been bearing a torch against unrighteousness, injustice and immorality, suddenly became a turncoat. One wonders if he feels remorseful and why. Was it also for a symbolic 30 pieces of silver? Conscience is a powerful lighthouse searching and seeking out wrongdoings. Many a life has been wrecked on the rocks of a lighthouse because he has allowed his soul to be purchased by the Devil. Judas Iscariot did and not only paid the price with his own life, but also entered the history book of humanity as the most gutless, hated and worthless soul that ever lived on earth.

But if you read the Bible beyond chapter 27 of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament, you will see that Judas Iscariot had been the tool that fulfill God's divine plan of having Jesus die, then resurrected three days later. The victory over death using sinners like Judas Iscariot should be seen in a positive light. In the case of RPK, although it is not identical, the lesson being taught is the same. RPK betrayed his followers, relinquishing the higher reward for a cheaper perishable one. Instead of converting them his followers are now even more determined to see the principles he so fervently fought for realized. It is like RPK has shone a light in the political consciousness of his followers that continue to shine although he has now deserted them and change allegiance. Eventually that light shall be victorious because you cannot extinguish truth when so much light are now shining in the dark.

THIS commentary echoes my sentiment. It is my hope RPK will find courage to reclaim his moral stand he fought for all these years and find his just place in the political history of the new Malaysia.

Note: the death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, started a religious revolution we all know as Christianity. Judas Iscariot was a party to this life changing impact.


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