Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Role of Introverts

I was watching an interesting podcast from TEDTalk by Susan Cain in March 2012 at Long Beach California on the role of introverts in the evolution of our modern society. Well, not in these exact words but essentially an observation of how urban societies are making it appear that to be successful one must be extroverted. The speaker herself confessed to be an introvert and felt uncomfortable standing before an audience delivering her 19 minutes presentation which she did flawlessly and without showing signs of stage fright or nervousness. This doesn't mean she like it which I think draws the line between an extrovert and an introvert. An introvert generally prefer to be in quieter surroundings and doing more thinking and reflecting than talking. This doesn't means extroverts doesn't think or reflect but rather enjoy the limelight more. In other words extroverts are social creatures. In career development employees are made to believe that to rise up the ladder he must be prominent before colleagues and bosses be it in or out of office. In movies we often see successful people portrayed as extroverted and it sends a dismay to many people who are quietly doing their work and may not receive due recognition because they do not project themselves as much.

Is modern society wrong? Have we misplaced our expectations and sidelined essential contributions from the introverted? Susan claimed that introverts are more creative and better organizers because they spend more time analyzing and seeking what is less obvious. Many renown world leaders like Mahatma Gandhi are uncomfortable in public. Their strength is not in mobilizing popular support but rather seeing beyond the current events and leading the way forward. An introverted leader lose out to an extroverted rival who may depend on emotional support rather than substantive thoughts on the future. I am not anti-extroverts because a better role is in the middle, someone who does as much thinking as talking.

We have gone away from reading to talking, writing to texting, reacting instead of conceptualizing. We need to slow down, breathe in the life in and around us, ask questions, seek answers, listen and be quiet because in solitude and silence answers do surface and when the world is shunned momentarily we may discover our world, who we really are.

Susan came on stage with a bag of books, real books that most of us wouldn't read but written by authors who spent years putting their thoughts in prints. Metaphorically we may not indulge in book reading as she does but spending time reflecting on ideas such as those delivered by TED speakers may change our perspectives on the way forward. If you can I encourage watching podcasts. They do carry useful messages for us. As well as help us think why things happen the way they did.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ah Gung 3.0

When I was a kid about 6 or 7 I'd look at my Ah Gung (grandpa) with his rounded belly and pants held in place by a belt. He was a picture of authority and provider. My father assisted him in business and later took over one of them. My Ah Gung was laid to rest in 1967. I was attending my pre-university class then.

In 1973 I got married and a year later made my father Ah Gung 2.0. He was crowned that position a year earlier when my younger brother gave him a grandson but I gave him his first grand daughter. Throughout the 25 years he was Ah Gung he enjoyed 11 grandchildren from the 4 sons and 3 from the only daughter. Then he passed on in 1998 to join his own father. When he died I wasn't an Ah Gung yet. My first grandchild was born in 2005 and I became Ah Gung 3.0 (technically, Gung Gung, since grandchildren from daughters address their grandpa differently from the son's) but for the purpose of this post and the love to all of them I am Gung all the same.

I gave 3 grandchildren to my parents and now my 3 children have given me 6 grandchildren. And these 6 kids have a 87 year old Ah Chor (great grandma) and a 94 year old Tai Kung (great grandpa, mother's side) to adore.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Compost Project

Early April I blogged about starting a compost project using my gardening waste. The project turns out to be very successful with minimal effort. Today I decided to dig out all the composted and decayed heap and spread the soil like dark brown mulch over the soil in my potted plants. They will provide both organic nutrients as well as moisture trap to keep the roots cool. The next pile of compost is being treated and should be usable towards end of June.

Upcoming - a 3 in 1 Trip

In just over a week I will be off again on a trip with a mission. It was unplanned until late March when I realized I had to make this trip because my friend needs me, and others from the class of 65, to foster our friendship and to give him our encouragement following his brain surgery. What else do we look forward to in our old age but true companionship from family and friends on earth and God above.

On June 2 my classmate TCS will fly with me on Emirates to Auckland via Melbourne where we will change flight. On arrival the following day we plan to call on our dear friend AL and his beloved wife. Since AL and I parted school in 1965 I've met him only twice. In 1973 he was best man at my wedding. In 1984 he and his family, including 3 boys around the age of my own children, had dinner with us in Singapore. Thereafter we lost touch until two years ago when AL reappeared with pictures of him bearded and silver haired. Almost none of us of the class of 65 could recognized him but AL was a gentleman and a bard, someone whom we held in high regard because of his flair of fine words.

It won't be just the two of us who will visit AL. Another classmate, my room mate during 1966 and 1967 when I was in the ACS Ipoh, DCH, will also fly in from Melbourne where he will be on official business, to join us to see AL on June 7. On that same day two other class mates residing in NZ decided to come along to make it five. AL would be overwhelmed by such kindness. And recently one other friend PL asked if he can join in. Although he wasn't our classmate the online friendship he developed with AL was sufficient a reason to make the trip. So if all goes well it will be a party, a reunion party that was never in my mind, to remember.

As I never really toured North Island in our 2006 holiday I thought this time I should visit the Bay of Islands north of Auckland. My family reminded me it will be winter in NZ now so to dress appropriately. Temperature wise it will be colder than Duluth, Georgia and TCS and I will be exposed to the outdoors on June 4-6 so we shall bring along warm clothings to protect from the wind, and rain if it comes.

In all my previous oversea travels, they were with family or sightseeing and visiting family. This trip will be different. It is with friends for friends whom we meet more in our memory than in reality. May God bless us all.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Some Photos To Share


We were sent off at KLIA by our family. Ling wasn't too pleased to see us go judging by her downcast look.


You'll be happy to know that Incheon International Airport has joined the rank of many traveler friendly airports by offering free Internet connections. While waiting for our connecting flight to Atlanta I used it to surf the Net as well as watch online movies to pass time.


It was indeed a beautiful morning when I worshipped at the Perimeter Church at Johns Creek, Georgia. I don't believe any church in Malaysia can rival it. The recreation grounds are just too good to miss.


I do confess I was in the States not just for Joshua but also for my brand new iPad 3. Here it is alongside its older sibling.


We were in time to help see Joshua at his first doctor's visit @ 1 week. Here he is being weighed by a kind nurse.


I was getting ready to go for my walk. Although the weather was 'safe' I thought I ought to stay warm in my jacket.


At the SouthWest domestic departure hall in Atlanta International Airport travelers can easily charge their laptops, cellphones, games consoles and tablets from these power sockets and USB ports.


SouthWest passengers receive boarding passes bearing Queue and Position numbers to expedite boarding process.


Our visit to Tony and family on April 28 was a celebration of food graciously prepared by John and Mary.


You guess it. This is the garage sale I blogged. We looked but fail to find anything useful.


We were at the Barefoot in the Park Art Festival one Saturday afternoon. Several award paintings were on display, not for sale.


We found two fat ladies sunning in the Park and decided to join in.


A resident band comprising mainly senior citizens put up a grand show at the Duluth Festival Centre when we visited.


Was it sheer coincidence or what? My wife was wearing a Smart Car tee shirt when she spotted this beauty.


Joshua was peacefully asleep when we took this picture at his full moon dinner.

Tunku Aziz - A Total Letdown

The vice chairman of DAP, or rather the former vice chairman, is a total disappointment. From someone I respect for his integrity and a rare breed of a Malay leader who could (yes, could) differentiate right from wrong and wise in his analysis of the government, that I referenced not once but three times in this blog in 2009 after the Barisan government engineered the takeover of the opposition led Perak state government, I am sad he fumbled in the manner he reacted to the April 28 BERSIH 3.0 public rally for free and fair election.

As vice chairman, he broke rank when he publicly disassociated with the party consensus in disagreeing to supporting the BERSIH movement and blaming it for also responsible for the violence that broke out. The Tunku ought to be able to see the trees from the woods. The overall cause of BERSIH is laudable and demand support from ALL concerned Malaysians over the rightful future of the nation which must be led by leaders chosen by the people and not via manipulation of the electoral processes. This include Tunku himself who had condemned the Perak takeover. His position then drew admiration for here is a member of the Malay royalty who publicly declared the incident as immoral. Therefore the turnaround now in condemning BERSIH can only be read with much suspicion. His latest reaction reported HERE reflects his forgetfulness that it was Najib he condemned for the Perak power grab. Why has he raised a trivial issue of violence over the larger cause of national integrity? Did he not understand for a person with vast experience and knowledge that every noble cause cannot be freed from abuse and provocation? The best of human nature can be irritated by acts of sabotage and humiliation. And who is absolutely sure the violence started and propagated wasn't done by non-BERSIH supporters infiltrated into the rally as Trojans dressed in yellow?

Is the Tunku entitled to his personal opinions? For sure not everyone who subscribes to his or her allegiance to the political party must blindly agree to every decision made. But here it isn't a case of fatal wrong that demands drastic reaction. It is simply an observation that is best kept within his heart. If he had been concerned and had openly shared with the party leadership which still openly support BERSIH why the need to sow disunity publicly after the event? It isn't a party man here but someone who didn't analyze the impact of his statement on the party that he represents. He had allowed his personal views to damage the larger cause he agreed to partake some 4 years ago.

Much like another royal member I lost my respect, Tunku Aziz has fallen into the same category. What a shame. For remarking publicly against BERSIH he was himself chastised publicly, and that he was not man enough to take it and decided to give up (not removed) the vice chairmanship of the party, as well as, I think in bad haste and rather childishly resign from the party. It reflect upon his sensitive nature and intolerance that till now has been hidden from the public. With his political career gone, but I wouldn't discount UMNO dangling a sweet job for him, Tunku is not the darling (or uncle or datuk) many Malaysians think of him as. Pity.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

En Route Home

We are now at the Incheon International Airport awaiting for our return flight to Kuala Lumpur. I'm glad the airport offer free wifi service to travelers, unlike some in developed countries that require a subscription. It was a boring 14 hours flight out of Atlanta 2 days ago ( actually only one and half ) since we lost a day crossing the international dateline flying westward. So were we relieved to land at 4.25pm yesterday and checked into the Best Western Premier Incheon Airport Hotel for a complimentary layover. It gave us a chance to rest our stiff bodies and adjust to local time zones. I try not to remind myself it is after 3am in Duluth lest my brain trigger sleep upon me. A group of Malaysians across me were yakking away. I guess that help keep me awake!

We are looking forward to getting home and resume our routines.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Highlights

We were greeted by a wet morning in Duluth. Our plan to worship at the North Point Community Church in Alpharetta wasn't defaulted by it. My son drove us there and in spite of the rain, the car park was almost filled. Perhaps it is the faithfulness of the worshippers in not missing a service, or today being Mother's Day, or people want to listen to the powerful sermon by Jeff Henderson, lead pastor, who is launching the Climate Change series of sermons today. I had a totally different experience. The audiovisual backup was awesome and production very professionally done. Where we sat towards the back of the East Auditorium there were three sets of video cameras set on high platforms capturing the live presentation and projecting it over the LCD screens in the auditorium as well as to the West Auditorium. The message was contemporary and deals with issues of handling relationship problems, including our personal relationship with God. I guess the message is not just for one or two but every listener in the halls.

After the service ended we checked out the Whole Food outlet nearby and bought some foodstuff that are appropriate for our grand daughter who is having some food allergy issues. We had a nice Caribbean lunch for a change. We ate at the Armando's Caribe Cuban restaurant (http://www.armandoscaribe.com/). Had Tilapia Tacos and shared the Paella de Mariscos with our son. The chip with salsa appetizer was great. Enjoyed the food which fits our palate. Joshua slept throughout.

This will be our last day of stay with our son and wife. In the 4 weeks we watched Joshua grew before our eyes and we know he will continue to develop physically, mentally, emotionally and socially under the watchful eyes of his parents. One remark touched me. During the morning service Jeff shared from the book on the late Steve Jobs. We all know how consumed Steve was in his work, to create a dent in the universe, that he didn't but he did dented our lives through his products. The inside cover picture showed Steve reclining in deep thought while starring into his Apple computer before him. He wasn't looking at his computer but at what was on the screen. It showed a picture of his wife and his son. And this picture was apparently taken soon after he was diagnosed to have pancreatic cancer. In moments like this, it isn't the work a man will turn to but his family. And in my case it will also be to God that I shall turn to.

My son has photos of Joshua all over his cell phone and having his son, according to him, redefines his priorities and his focus in life. I guess in this Joshua will only realize one day when he is old enough how fortunate he is to be born into such a loving family. So shall we be feeling likewise. We will fly home with high definition pictures of our grandson to display and share.

Tonight we shall have dinner with Yee Ma the adorable auntie who never fail to impress us with her culinary skills. In her 70s she still cook for her family. May God bless her and keep her in good health.

We've nearly done packing, almost ready to fly tomorrow afternoon home.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Double Celebrations

Yesterday we celebrated the full moon of Joshua at the Zagat rated Oriental Pearl Seafood Restaurant in Chamlee nearby Duluth with families and friends. There was a roasted suckling piglet ordered for the occasion and red eggs with pickled ginger to mark this special day for Johua who was dressed up for the first time in red and blue checkered cotton shirt and blue pant, very boyish and handsome. We made sure he had his milk before we leave the house and his diaper is dry. Joshua is quite particular in these departments so we can expect a pretty organized kid when he grows up, like his dad was, and still is.

Towards the end of the dinner I received a text message. My elder daughter is in labour ward being induced. Baby Sharon is going to make her entry to unseat Joshua for the title of the youngest kid on the block. And she did it a few hours later, just past midnight here in Duluth.

Welcome Sharon into our world. You looked pretty when we received your first picture within the hour of your birth and we shall hold you in our arms when we get home next week.

I thank God for giving my daughter an easy delivery. From induction to delivery it was staged in just 5 hours.

Today we shall head to a professional studio all dressed up for our family photos to be taken. The weather outside looks great as I blog this.

Friday, May 11, 2012

What Have We Become?

Today I received an email from a friend with a forwarded content to support certain brands of rice because they are produced by a certain miller. It was a racist appeal and the request deny the consumers the choices they have limiting them to what they consider politically expedient. What is going on? Have we sunk this low that we think gutter politics and make choices accordingly?

Rice has been added to the list of consumables we should choose preferentially. Previously we were asked to only buy sugar and bread from certain sources and avoid soft drinks and gas from certain vendors because they belong to government cronies. Very soon we will hear of other appeal: avoid certain cooking oil, beef or chicken and do not buy certain make of vehicles, travel in certain airlines or buses, or patronize certain shopping malls or hypermarkets. If this is where we are heading we are going to get laughed at.

We have allowed ourselves to proxy our anger against the government to those businesses created by the government and to sympathize towards those victimized by government preferential policies. And adopt punitive actions against the cronies. This makes us no better than those who behave racistly. It is natural we are angry but if we let this train of thoughts control our emotion and decision we will gradually become racists without realizing it and God help us. Choosing what is best for us shouldn't be made secondary to choosing lesser because we judge our suppliers negatively.

Malaysia was not built upon racism but upon unity of races for her common good. Along the way the nation was hijacked by some politicians out to exploit the people for their selfish gain. These past years we have become politically awakened to know the evils that befell our nation. We long for the good old days and in our anger over the de-civilization of our society it is normal we are impatient for change. Malaysia is dealing with issues much larger than BERSIH or Lynas. The entire nation is dealing with a fallen system that glorify corruption and money politics and refuses to develop the full potential of her people. The delay in calling for fresh election is brewing frustrations than can make the 12th general election in 2008 a tame affair.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Final Week in Duluth

We are into the last few days of our month's visit here in conjunction with the birth of Joshua our grandson. Next Monday we will be flying home to welcome our next grandchild, Sharon. Talk about productivity! Sure some of my friends and classmates are secretly envious of my 'success' but it is our children who decide, not us. If success means being ahead yes I guess among my classmates I am leading and thank God for the joy of having the companies of Victoria, Grace, William, Andrew, Joshua and later, Sharon.

We will celebrate Joshua's coming of age with a full moon dinner coming Friday, followed by a family photo session at a professional studio this Saturday. Then on Sunday we shall celebrate the mothers for their love and sacrifices towards their children and grandchildren. And a special 'welcome to the club' for Winnie, Joshua's mom. Later in June, on Father's Day, the same welcome to Julian, the new dad on the block. What a grand closure to our stay!

We also have the chance to chat with two of our former classmates while here, one from Allentown, Philadelphia and the other from Toronto, Canada. This trip has been fruitful in other ways. I was 'fruitful' in putting extra inches around my waist and can't wait to reduce them when I get home. I am also pleased to find myself a lovely jacket that fits me and enhance my appearance. After visiting several stores, the 6th store have the one I liked. My wife got some clothing she like so will wear one for the photo session.

This trip is the longest we are away from home. And our daughter back home just told us our new neighbor has started renovating his house that he bought from the previous owner from bank auction. Looks like we have to bear with the inconvenience of noise and dust pollution again.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Breaking News - France Has a New President

And I ask the question: Is change a global trend from people watching how similar transitions are taking place elsewhere and want it too? Moments ago at 2pm Atlanta time I heard over Aljazeera live report that Socialist leader Francois Hollande has defeated incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy to become the next president of France by capturing 51.9% of the votes casted. According to commenters Sarkozy lost because he was hated by many French and was rejected because he failed to carry out reforms demanded by the people. I am seeing a similarity here with what is happening in Malaysia. Is Najib our equivalent of Sarkozy? While Hollande is not as charismatic as Sarkozy he still wins. What just happened in France can take place in Malaysia IF there is no manipulation of the voting process. If the government forces through the election without implementing the reforms demanded there is a chance they will retain Putrajaya. However this can be overturned if more voters decide to vote in a cleaner government.

There is talk of July as the election month but it can be later. Malaysia must be the only country in the world where a general election is held on a date to suit the prime minister's personal time table, timed to avoid the Muslim fasting month, major festivals and political events. More importantly it is planned to capitalize on a 'good feel' as well as a 'winning chance' for the ruling party. This is why we never know when the Parliament is going to be dissolved because the prime minister waits and waits for the perfect timing to do so. In the meantime he has to put out several fires lest any of them gets out of control. Isn't it any wonder sometimes we see things said and done out of desperation, like clinging at the last straw?

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Living is Giving

Or giving is living. I believe we are created not for the selfish purpose of taking and not returning, making and not sharing, receiving and not offering. Living in such manner is unnatural and runs against the creation which balance the unequal and level the uneven. What joy is there when one is obsessed with accumulating and not giving? It is not enough that we are born gifted and empowered with knowledge and skills that give us opportunities to advance in life ahead of those who are disadvantaged? We need to pause and ask the question, is this all to it in living?

I believe every living day is a giving day. We give of ourselves to help others - parents and grandparents sacrificing time and sleep to look after children and grandchildren, volunteers taking up tasks to look after the sick and the disabled, teachers lending their knowledge to teach the poor and the slow, and philanthropists giving away their wealth to charities in education, environment, researches, healthcare, poverty eradication, abuse prevention, etc. People unknowingly elevate themselves whenever they give. They discover purposefulness and meaning of work, struggle, humanity and caring. Through giving they become heroes to themselves and recognize their vital roles in society.

But reverse it and look upon the process of giving. Though the givers may be unaware, whenever they give they become more alive when they realize they have become channels of healing. Like oxygen pumped into the blood they give hope and new life. Giving refreshes the givers as much as the receivers.

So living is for giving. And yes, living is also forgiving. Hurt is like a huge knot that strangles and kills the joy out of daily living. Pain is like a shackle that imprison our souls. Bitterness is like a pill that makes life boring and tasteless. However when forgiving is offered these hurt, pain and bitterness will gradually disappear giving way to fresh outlook and a happier person within. Like stepping out of a straight jacket into freedom.

Garage Sales & Festival

Today is a beautiful day to get outdoor. So it was a good coincidence that the homeowners association where our son lives decided to hold a garage sale for residents who have stuff to sell. It was also the weekend that an art festival organized by BAREFOOT called Barefoot in the Park was held at the Duluth Town Green.

We had our first experience with both events although garage sale is familiar to us. Garage sales are opportunities for sellers to clear out stuffs they no longer need to create space, and for buyers to find stuff of hidden value or those they need at cheap prices. We visited our immediate neighbor Tracy who laid out unused Christmas decorative items, used children clothings and high chair, used workout equipment and other stuffs. There were some curious visitors, some buy, some didn't. We didn't as we won't have luggage space. Houses having sales have colorful balloon tied to their letter boxes to let would be buyers know and direction signs abound. A good weather is absolutely essential to draw the buyers and today I guess there should be good sales done. Although sales can be done as a common event for a community, which will encourage bargain hunters to check out several houses in one go, some families may conduct one on their own, such as when they are relocating and need to clear out non-essential items in a hurry.

We went next to the Barefoot event which is like a fun fair. We were greeted by music coming from the Duluth Art Center where a band was playing out a familiar hymn, The Battle Hymn of the Republic. There were art exhibitions, wine tasting, sale of art and craft stuffs, books, school booth, food court and a live band entertaining guests at the beer garden. It is a family event too with many pet dogs coming out this Saturday morning. Barefoot is one of many carnival like events to encourage greater community living as well as draw the people into the open air to enjoy the outdoor more.

Joshua already has a date with the Barefoot or similar event when he is old enough to get out in a stroller. For us, we took lots of pictures and videos for keepsake.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Writings On The Wall

Dr. Mahathir is spot on when he predicted HERE that the next BERSIH rally will be bigger but wrong to suggest it will be more violent unless the protestors are instigated and set up. The pattern we saw over the previous rallies has been that the participants came unarmed and with the common spirit and desire to give collective strength to demand the government level the playing field to allow the opposition coalition an even chance to challenge the ruling coalition in the upcoming elections through a reformed electoral process that is free and fair. Any reasonable person will not have any reason to disagree and although the government paid lip service to the demands it wasn't as quick to walk the talk. Many people have persuaded the prime minister to declare his support by joining in the walk but he refused, which is seen as a gutless reaction to the the slow and reluctant reform demanded. It is only in its weakened and unpopular position now that it, via its proxy, the Election Commission, agreed to introduce the use of indelible ink at the upcoming elections to prevent fraudulent voting at more than one polling stations. But the EC has refused to look into the other 7 demands (refer HERE) and lately the opposition coalition produced evidence that both the chairman and the vice chairman are members of UMNO, the major partner of the ruling coalition thus rendering them bias and subservient and therefore unable to discharge their duties independently. This charge has been challenged in court.

People protest when a government either fail to rule to the general expectation of the citizenry, and refuses to make changes, either through continual process of handling crisis and problems every human society faces or through public proposals which may elevate into memoranda and later demands when situation worsens. This is the progression we see in my beloved Malaysia. I've not seen this many ordinary people, including retirees older than me, deciding to walk their beliefs to tell the government the time is NOW. It will be too late to promise reform AFTER the next general election because there is the uneasy fear and feeling that the ruling coalition will play dirty to win and has no real interest to accept electoral reform earnestly.

Dr. Mahathir is right. In the next few months if the government fails to move towards the reform agenda it is very likely that BERSIH 4.0 will be organized. Many more people will take part and it will surely include members of the opposition coalition. What else can we expect? It is the natural progression. And the government will respond in the typical fashion of banning it, barricading its venue, deploying police and riot squads to squash the protestors through their arsenals of tear gas and water cannons. God knows if the police will be armed next with batons to beat up protesters rather than bare hands. God knows if some protesters will learn how protesters in other disturbing cultures respond through stones and hand weapons. And God knows whether the next time there will be real blood shed.

I dare not think how BERSIH 4.0 will turn out but I know if the government do not behave aggressively the next rally will not turn ugly. I pray for sanity to prevail. Listen, Mr. Prime Minister, don't end up as the PM who cause innocent Malaysian blood to be shed on our roads. That will make a mockery of what you believe in, 1Malaysia, or was that just politics?

BERSIH 1.0 on November 10, 2007 drew an estimated 30,000 - 40,000 crowd, BERSIH 2.0 on July 9, 2011 attracted between 50,000 to 60,000 participants and BERSIH 3.0 on April 28, 2012 saw 200,000 to 300,000 people gathering. The exponential increase can only mean a more agitated middle rising up to send a warning to the government. At this rate can we discount BERSIH 4.0 to attract less than 300,000? You can figure that out based on whether the government starts to listen.

Finally, an observation. After BERSIH 1.0 the 12th general election was held on March 8, 2008, just 4 months thereafter, and the ruling government lost 5 states. It wasn't listening fast enough. The government promised reform in the hope to regain their position. BERSIH gave them time before firing their next salvo at BERSIH 2.0 when NO reform took place. At BERSIH 2.0 demands to reform the electoral process were urgently made as the 13th general election could be called anytime before May 2013. When the government hardened their stand it then bred BERSIH 3.0 9 months later. If the government hardened their stand still, conceivably BERSIH 4.0 will take place within this year.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Will You Still Vote for a Corrupt AND Brutal Government?

After I read THIS report I paused and thought deeply. What kind of country are we living in today? What hatred the police showed when they tear gassed innocent people locked in and unable to move? Have they no values for human lives? And no love for fellow Malaysians whose only purpose that Saturday afternoon was to gather in force to tell the government they can no longer tolerant its arrogance and open defiance against popular public opinion? When the government treat the citizens with differing viewpoints as enemies and with contempt it is time for them to go. Malaysia CANNOT reach developed state by 2020 with this kind of mentality and intolerance. The 1Malaysia spirit was found among the protestors, NOT with those bent to break them.

BERSIH 3.0 is a defining moment in the history of Malaysia. On that day the start of popular uprising has begun, peacefully but stoked to anger by brutal police action. The next BERSIH assembly will not be so kind. I am afraid it will carry the semblance of the Arab Spring. And Najib Razak will be held responsible for not listening and not feeling the pulse of the people.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

People's Day

Today is International Labour Day recognizing the contribution of employees in producing goods and services to sustain the society and economy. I join them and salute them for their hard work in bringing income home to their families, feeding and educating their kids and even supporting their aged parents. I also salute the employers for providing opportunities to the community to become employed. Together they form vital partnerships that make a nation prosperous. Since nearly everyone works, except those who are ill, handicapped, retired or super wealthy perhaps we should celebrate today generally as People's Day and rejoice in our collective strength in making our societies stronger and more liveable. If only the governments know how to harness their skills, knowledge and experience to develop the nation. After all it is the people who make up a nation and a nation is great, or mediocre, because of the way their people are.

But great nations, and great people, also suggest good governance, and poor nation and mediocre people, bad governance. A nation that fail to grow in stature and wealth must blame on its governments, and ultimately on its people for not choosing their government wisely, if they have the choice. A nation where its people are disenchanted, angry and felt uncared is a nation awaiting implosion. Malaysia has never seen a public rally the size and anger like the BERSIH 3.0 movement last Saturday. Reports estimated 250,000 to 300,000 supporters turned up as compared to about 50,000 at BERSIH 2.0 last July 9. Publc rallies point to failure of a government in managing the people's welfare. While BERSIH 3.0 is about electoral reform, the underlying supporting causes why people participated is also to vent their protest against the government for failing to contain a rising inflation that is not cancelled through higher income especially for those at the entry levels and engaging in unskilled work. Even the government's announcement of minimum wage of RM900 and RM800 for West and East Malaysia respectively is met with rejection because they are unrealistically low. But how can employers afford to pay higher without driving some out of business due to inefficiency and low productivity? For years we've tried to create a trained and productive workforce and failed and this failure now haunt us.

When people are angry their natural reaction is vent their frustrations at the authority. So my take is BERSIH 3.0 will lead to a bigger public demonstration either before or after the general election. My take is also this time there will be greater use of force from both the demonstrators and the security forces, and the damages will be severe. In the worst case scenario, the government will either enforce emergency rule or be forced to resign. Internal dissension arising from disagreement over how the prime minister handled, or mishandled, the rally himself or proxied through the police or his home minister, will create fallout and weaken his leadership.

We've heard often that people are kingmakers. Malaysians today are realizing they have unused power to evoke change and I believe the incumbent government is worried after what took place last Saturday. Today Malaysians have a choice - to stay status quo or change. The world over governments are being overthrown through disenchantment over the way the people are treated. From my viewing and reading of evidence and analysis of BERSIH 3.0 Najib Razak has lost the 13th general election even before it is held.

Newark or New Erk?

I remember many years ago when I first flew into the Newark International Airport I pronounced it the way an English man would, New Ark and was promptly corrected. Since then I made sure I pronounced it the American way, New Erk.

Last Saturday when my wife and I flew into that airport again I remembered the narrow walkway we used to pass through getting out to the arrival exit gate after security check. Grinning all over was the unlikely couple, my brother and his good friend John, the way they did many times before. They always travel together. Every time I visit them they would drive 40 minutes from their house in Piscataway to receive us. My brother is hopeless in directions, just as I am. It was hilarious watching him still making mistakes getting out of the airport and had to depend on John to guide him. It had happened many times before when they took us for holidays and Tony would sometimes make a wrong turn or wait for John to signal which exit to take. I then realize Tony need John to navigate. Even with a GPS to help him, he prefers the human navigator. I remarked they are the Chinese Odd Couple because they always quarrel but never take things to heart.

The weekend stay with them was one I was very touched. John had cooked special dishes for the welcoming dinner making us feel really important. Tony's wife Mary too prepared her special wine noodle for breakfast that reminded me of home. Lunch and dinner were eaten out at Zagat rated Chinese restaurants and they refused taking my share of the cost. The hospitality showered upon us made me embarassed as we just want to be treated normally, not lavishly. We were driven to Costco, Walmart, Target, Kohl's and CVS Pharmacy to shop for our foodstuff, clothing and healthcare products.

The trip also serves as an opportunity to learn more about my brother's project which he was very passionate about. It is my hope that he will have it launched successfully soon.

Today at 11am we had to leave them to fly back to Atlanta. As the SouthWest B737 winged over Port Elizabeth container yard and flew over Newark Bay I felt New York city in the distance, recalling my first trip into Chinatown in 1985. It was like yesterday but I wonder how many more times will I make the flight in and out of Newark again.

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