Monday, October 28, 2013

Another Successful Fund Raiser Concluded

Like in an examination I heaved a sigh of relief after last Saturday's fund raising dinner ended with us raising over RM60,000 for the Persatuan Berdikari Seremban Negeri Sembilan or PBSNS which I head. A small task force started meeting as early as February this year to choose the venue, decide on the performer to approach and the guest of honor to invite. We tossed the idea of inviting a politically connected leader but eventually abandoned it. After 8 meetings the four of us are proud of our achievement. And we know that we have been blessed by God in this endeavor.

Looking back I cannot deny there were moments of doubts and disappointments being unsure if we can match left alone exceed the target of our first fund raising effort in December 2010. I actually approached the preparation with less excitement than I should have, being disillusioned by lack of initial team spirit. People who were zealous in the beginning fired up but extinguished out early revealing their true colors and their lack of genuine passion for this community work. They could not put aside their personal differences to thrive for the goal of helping the centre grow. But those who stayed united can be assured that their efforts will be remembered here and recognized in the hereafter for the work of PBSNS though fashioned by hands and the planned by human minds is surely confirmed and blessed by God. It is built not to profit anyone but to benefit those who truly need our help to start a new life. Nothing in life is more noble than to put ourselves in service of those who are handicapped and need us.

The responses to our appeal were lukewarm in the early months and that I can associate with the local culture of not committing until the last moment. It bored out to be true because barely 2 weeks before the event we thought we would achieve just 50-51 tables. However, like runners dashing towards the finishing line, 6 more tables were sold in the closing days. Finally we hit 57 tables, just one short of the 2010 raiser. But an unaudited count of the proceeds showed we have exceeded what we obtained in 2010. I couldn't be happier but had wished for a united and exuberant spirit from those who did not stay through the preparatory months. They could have felt recognized by their contributions.

PBSNS raised funds to cover their operating expenses. It is seeking suitable candidates to fill 2 vacancies as job placement officer and project trainer.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Battle Over Allah

We are a weird nation when it comes to religion. It is not free and the state has come to own the right to control how its people decide their God. It is definitely an intrusion into the rights and privacy as far as Islam is concerned. No Muslim of Malaysian citizenship is truly free to come and go. And if you convert in, it is very very hard to convert out. There are hurdles, obstacles and implications on inheritance and property sharing. 

The same cannot be said of Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and other religions. There is freedom of choice. So why is Islam, or shall I say, Malaysian version of Islam different? I don't know of any other country where you are a Muslim for life and your children automatically Muslim and none may convert out. I want to suggest that Islam has been hijacked and politicized by the ruling government to perpetuate their rule over the people, especially the Malay people who are all Muslims by law. Very few Malays succeeded in converting out when they felt they want to practice another faith, and some migrate to other countries without such restrictions. Strangely, Indonesia being the largest Islamic nation in the world does not impose religious control on her citizens and there is freedom of choice. I feel Indonesia is more democratic in this respect. Although there are church bombings there, much more than in Malaysia they were carried out by those who dislike Christianity. But the Indonesian government certainly did not clamp religious freedom like the BN government here. And the lid is about to blow.

Malaysia has a predominant Muslim population, some 60+% with Christians taking up 9-10% and the rest Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, etc. The cabinet is predominantly Muslim too and we have a Muslim prime minister. The welfare of the minority religions are seldom provided until appealed. The government seems to think they owe it to propagate and defend Islam. It has undertaken roles it is not supposed to perform. It has interfered into the lives of every Malaysian and stirs up dangerous religious sentiments that risk going out of control if not pacified.

The Allah issue is not new. It had simmered for more than 10 years. The official reason for banning Christians from referring to their God as Allah too is that it has created confusion amongst the Muslims. Has it? Was there a survey? Or is it merely an excuse to champion Islam for the Malays at the expenses of annoying the defenseless minorities? Truth is a government shouldn't take side. Its tenure is to administer the nation during its term as best as possible. But if the government after it has been elected into power continues to play politics instead of settling down to manage the economy and welfare of its people, and uses religion to instil division and hatred, then it has exceeded its mandate. The people must not tolerate a government that is divisive and not attend to pressing problems like rising crime rates, unrepressed corruption, high cost of living, declining standard of living and poor delivery of education.

The Catholic weekly newsletter for internal circulation, the Herald, was banned from referring to the Christian God as Allah in its Malay edition. Four years ago the High Court lifted the ban but recently the Appeal Court reinstated it creating new rounds of furore. Readers need to know that English speaking Christians don't use Allah for God. Only the indigenous people who don't speak English and are Christians refer to God as Allah, which has been evidenced from historical records as a term that pre-dated Islam. In other word Allah doesn't belong to Islam. It was a word used in the Middle East to mean god and is also used in the Quran. And no country apart from Malaysia stops others from referring to Allah as their god, so why are we so insistent? Is the government afraid of many Muslims leaving their faith? To deny the indigenous Christians their rights to continue worshipping God using Allah is unconstitutional. Allah doesn't belong to the Malays.

So why is the government, and the non-independent judiciary, so biased and defensive towards Islam? Many observers felt Islam has become a political tool to foster unity among the Muslims. Nothing wrong to say that Muslims will do all they can to strengthen their followership, but when the government interferes, and the judges take the cue how to deliver their verdicts, then we are heading into untested and very dangerous territory. Much damage has been done with encouraging the extremist elements. We must steer back to the moderate path that provide peace, stability and harmony of living together that all Malaysians aspire for themselves and their children. Goodwill is very lacking, all because the government is more concerned with their political survival and pander to using mass emotion to drum up its support. Sad and shameful.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Little Blu-ray Media Player

Sometime early September my bank's CRM told me to pick a gift using the free voucher I've earned. Having most of the electronic gadgets I decided to look for something that will fill the gap. The Samsung Blu-ray DVD player caught my attention only because it has Internet connectivity. With that it can transform my 4 year plus LCD TV into a smart TV. It happened I already have an Ethernet cable pulled to my entertainment centre from the router. So using the credit from the voucher I paid a small sum of RM50 to get the player. Before that I researched its features and was pleased that it is DLNA certified. By that is means it is able to detect through the common wired or wireless network other similarly certified (otherwise enabled by installing proprietary softwares) devices to be able to play multimedia files from them. This means one is not tied down to be sitting before the PC monitor but be able to share pictures, videos and music stored in the computer to the living room and other devices, including smartphones, giving greater access to a larger audience. I felt excited by what this little baby can do.

What makes this network media player really interesting is it can pull Youtube broadcasts, news, Facebook and other documentaries from the Internet onto the big screen. Because it connects using the HDMI cable to the TV the digital signals are clearer and sharper. The only bottleneck is the bandwidth of the Internet connection. With my 4Mbps Streamyx service it delivers the video downloads without much buffering.

This little baby helps me appreciate what wireless network can do. But because my PC must be switched on and the DLNA program launched to allow it to be 'seen' in the network by the Samsung. I'm not in the habit of leaving the PC running 24/7 because I believe in resting it to extend its service life. My next project will ensure my multimedia files can be accessed 24/7 and not only across my home network but also, if necessary, on the Internet anywhere around the world where it is available. The project is the NAS or Network Attached Storage. In contention are Buffalo and Synology with the latter under serious consideration.


Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Bathroom Hazards

I caught up with an old acquaintance in my recent Eastern Europe holiday. 40 years ago I met him in Kluang, Johore, when as a green graduate I was posted to his factory for training, not under him but his former colleague in charge of research and development. I was saddened to learn of the demise of my mentor Shum which was the direct result of a fall in his bathroom several years ago. He had fractured his hip and never recovered since and died a few years later from complications resulting from that unfortunate incident. Could it have been avoided? I believe so.

I stayed in 6 different luxury hotels in E. Europe and every one of them was equipped with long bath. Only one has a shower cabinet. None except the hotel that provided shower cabinet provided anti-slip mats for the long bath. Maybe these hotels expected their guests to bath, and not shower standing up inside the bath. That I'd say is most presumptuous since their guests come from all over the world and not everyone bath lying down. Now, I may be wrong but I think long bath is the western thingy. They like to lie for a long time, soak up and truly enjoy the privacy and pleasure of bathing. For travelers in a hurry I think they don't have the luxury of hogging the bath, especially if the husband is screaming it is about time the wife give up the bath to him.

There are several bathroom hazards I can think of but on top of my head is slipping while standing up to shower in the long bath. Every long bath must be designed with an anti-slip floor mosaic to provide some foot grip especially after applying the shower gel or hair shampoo. Otherwise an anti-slip rubber mat is absolutely necessary. A fall can cause a minor head concussion which may cause hemorrhage unknown to the victim, or a fracture like what happened to poor Mr. Shum, or abrasion or cut leading to bleeding. Or it could cause unconsciousness, even death if no one discover the accident.

Other hazards are scalding from the hot water shower head due to unfamiliarity of usage, slipping on the bathroom floor and getting cut by toilet paper holder (yessss, I nearly did from the sharp edge of the stainless steel flap).

Senior people are most vulnerable especially having to climb over the long bath and climb out. If they forgot to pre-lay the floor towel and try to grab it to lay an accident is in the making. With more senior people buying tour packages hotel industry hospitality and safety people must review how to not only make their guests have pleasant stay but stay out of possibly mishaps. Please remember Asians treat long baths as shower room because we seldom lie down. Even if we do please ensure we have strong grab holders to lift ourselves up, safely.


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