Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Rafidah Aziz's Reminder

Rafidah Aziz (right) had, on Monday, cautioned Malaysians not to vote for corrupt politicians – as that would be tantamount to an endorsement of their wrongdoings. 

In a blunt and caustic post on her Facebook page, Malaysia’s best-known former trade minister warned that Malaysians would be considered “accomplices” to acts of corruption and treachery if they wilfully voted for corrupt politicians. 

“Dear Malaysians, please remind ourselves of these cautionary words … A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices”, she had written, quoting famous novelist and essayist George Orwell. 

“Because, directly, the people are allowing them to continue doing what is wrong”, said she. 

Rafidah drew attention to the fact that Malaysian authorities were not proactive in locating Equanimity. (Of course, we already know that Indonesian authorities – on FBI’s request – had impounded it in Bali on February 28, 2018). 

Rafidah had questioned why they couldn’t locate the 91.5 meter mega-yacht when she herself had spotted it while on a diving trip in Thailand over a year ago. For sure, the Equanimity is definitely hard to miss! 

Anyway, it is not that they didn’t know where to find it – the real reason was because they didn’t wish to know. Equanimity belongs to Jho Low and this Penang fella is PM Najib Razak’s buddy and business associate. 

Right now with the elections approaching, I am sure Najib doesn’t want the Malaysian public to be reminded (again) that he is closely connected to Jho Low. Anything about Jho Low and/or 1MDB is akin to having the Sword of Damocles hanging over his head. 

On Monday, I had blogged about road fatalities. I hadn't expected to come across an accident so soon! This was the accident scene in USJ, Subang Jaya this morning:

A Fanciful Theory on Robert Kuok

Photo credit: FMT, December 10, 2017

I believe the stinging attacks on Robert Kuok were intended to send a message to the Chinese that even the rich and powerful are not spared. Unless you play ball with UMNO. 

That's my theory. 

What's more, I am speculating that Kuok is aware of the changing political landscape in Malaysia. We are on the brink of change. 

He knows it and so, he decides to stop being a benefactor. Or if he is still obliged to give, he is not meeting their lofty demands.

I am contending that my conjecture is plausible.

We all know that in Malaysia, when you are an immensely successful businessperson – you will surely be asked to make extra-large donations to political parties’ piggybanks, especially during general elections. And GE14 looks like being the mother of all general elections. 

Certainly, “dedak” is a powerful weapon used by UMNO and BN parties to manipulate, influence and buy votes. 

Kuok himself admitted as much – his memoirs released in Malaysia last December mentioned that he gave huge donations to UMNO, as well as MCA. I have no doubt that they run into millions. 

Anyway, this year, he didn't want to play ball anymore. That put him under the harsh glare of the UMNO spotlight. More than that, swords were quietly unsheathed.

Somebody first hatched a plan to make a monkey of Robert Kuok. Guess who was given the honor to deliver the first blow?

The master storyteller. The purveyor of lies. The treacherous worm of a wordsmith.

Malaysia Today blogger, Raja Petra Kamarudin (left) wrote a series of three articles that were published between February 21 and 23 – accusing Kuok, among other things, of channelling funds to DAP. In other words, bankrolling the Opposition in order to topple the government of the day. 

The so-called ‘proof’ was a couple of photos that featured James Kuok (his nephew who supposedly acted as an intermediary) and some politicians dining in a restaurant. 

Now, this is what I would call ‘fake news’. Not a shred of evidence. No smoking gun. Nothing. 

If you had read the said pieces, you will know that the manner in which they were written was smeared with fiction and falsehood and liberally laced with wickedness. This was the work of an expert propagandist with evil intent. 

He had cleverly stitched lies onto non-existent content that took shape to become a believable narrative. The misinformation, misdirection, confabulation and deceit were carefully concealed; they were well-hidden amongst words and sentences.

Upon publication of the sham writings, the verbal offensive was unleashed. 

Deputy Agriculture and Agro-Based Minister Tajuddin Abdul Rahman had wanted to jog Kuok’s memory and so he told the latter not to forget the “hands that fed him”, while Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan advised Kuok to retire. 

Even Prime Minister Najib Razak blasted a reminder to Kuok that he could not have made his fortune without the Malaysian government’s help. Meaning he became successful because of BN's (read, UMNO's) patronage!

The Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz happily joined in – and he was even more caustic and rude. “Don’t be a “pondan” (pansy). Don’t be an “ayam betina” (hen) that hides behind walls in Hong Kong”, he was quoted as saying. 

The hurtful insults were uncalled for. They were mean, nasty and spiteful. 

Maybe Robert Kuok OUGHT to donate money to the Opposition. 

Kuok should know that Pakatan Harapan really do need the wherewithal to prepare for GE14. Especially parties like DAP and Amanah are always asking for handouts at every of their event; they are that financially tight. 

You and I know politics is a damn expensive business!

Kuok, please donate. Please help them to bring change. "Ubah" for a better tomorrow.

I have no doubt this applies to Malaysia too. Image credit:

To MCA, Gerakan, SUPP party members and others, kindly remember the scornful, scathing and scurrilous put-downs hurled at Robert Kuok – when you cast your vote in GE14!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Jho Low is Well-loved

I tell you, Jho Low can always count on friends and supporters in UMNO. Believe it or not, he is well-loved.

On March 01, 2018, Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak loosened his tongue to disclose that there was no tangible proof that Jho Low is the actual owner of Equanimity, the seized mega-yacht or that it was purchased using 1MDB money. 

He even dared to claim he had studied the DoJ documents and therefore, he came to the above conclusion. This tells us how effing stupid some people are but they still don't "sedar diri" (realize).

And then the Malaysian ambassador to Indonesia Zahrain Mohamad Hashim (Remember him? The PKR turncoat?) valiantly voiced out that the luxury vessel had nothing to do with PM Najib Razak, 1MDB or billionaire financier Jho Low. 

I told you before that stupidity is contagious.

Anyway, Indonesia's leading current affairs magazine Tempo (March 12-18, 2018 issue) featured a story on 1MDB and not afraid to say as it is. 

Its cover carried the heading “Pesiar rasuah 1MDB” (1MDB corruption yacht) accompanied by a caricature of businessperson Jho Low on board the Equanimity. 

Zahrain blasted the weekly mag, saying Najib was “angry” and “disappointed” with the news coverage. 

“We will be facing elections. The opposition will use it (1MDB) to attack the government”, he had angrily complained. 


I can appreciate the fact that these two asskissers are defending their boss – after all, we must come to expect that. They are asskissers, after all. 

But to also speak on behalf of Jho Low is beyond incredulous belief! 

Rais Yatim (left), the Special advisor to the Government on cultural matters – which carries the same status as a minister – picked up on this and called for the Penang businessperson to be investigated. 

He tweeted "The world is criticizing Malaysia through Jho Low. Why (do we) love the crook Jho Low so much?". 

Of course, Rais was promptly attacked by UMNO party leaders and supporters – Mohamed Nazri Aziz Nazri and Faisal Ismail Aziz being the prominent ones among them. 

Nazri, an UMNO Supreme Council member well-known for shooting off his mouth had rebuked Rais last Wednesday – saying that the latter had a grudge against the government because he was dropped as a minister! 

Huh? What was he rambling about? I swear this bozo only knows how to spit out nonsense. 

A day later, Faisal who is JASA (Special Affairs Department – the government’s propaganda arm) director also chided Rais that “persons with ministerial rank” should use “proper channels” to air their grievances or quit their positions. 

Idiots! There are plenty of them in government. Is it any wonder why the country is so screwed up?

In any case, support for Rais came from an unexpected party. 

UMNO Veterans secretary Mustapha Yaakub voiced out that a sane UMNO leader would never support Jho Low, much less "love" the man. 

He emphasized that it is treason to defend Jho Low because he is at the root of the 1MDB scandal and has caused the government to be dragged through the mud. 

"In fact, they would want action to be taken against Jho Low, in accordance with the country’s laws, if he truly had stolen 1MBD money", Mustapha was quoted as saying in the Sinar Harian Online report dated March 17, 2018. 

I am relieved to know that there are UMNO members who still possess a modicum of intelligence. Long live UMNO!

Canadian Professor Recreates 4th Century Beer

(L2R): Barn Hammer Brewing Company head brewer Brian Westcott, University of Winnipeg associate professor Matt Gibbs, and Barn Hammer owner Tyler Birch pose on March 13, 2018 for a photo after they teamed up to recreate an ancient beer the old-fashioned way. Photo credit: David Lipnowski/Canadian Press 

Beer made an old-fashioned way. Photo credit: David Lipnowski/Canadian Press 

An academic who is a University of Winnipeg classics professor and expert on Hellenistic and Roman history has teamed up with a brewing company to recreate a fourth-century beer to learn how it was made in ancient times.

The original recipe was written by an Egyptin alchemist in the 4th century AD, which Matt Gibbs translated from ancient Greek. 

After which he then got to work with brewers Tyler Birch and Brian Westcott, co-owners of Barn Hammer Brewing Co. in Winnipeg, Canada. 

They started by making sourdough bread from water and barley flour milled by hand. It took 18 hours to bake the loaves at a heat low enough that the enzymes essential for beer-making stayed alive. The loaves were then submerged in a fermenter at Barn Hammer. 

The only major differences from the original recipe was that a stainless steel fermenter was used and the barley wasn't malted on a roof in the sun. 

Weeks went by and the experiment slowly turned from a murky mix to a pristine pint. 

"After tasting the bread they made, I thought we were going to have something really disgusting, but it turned out really well", Birch said. 

"I'm actually blown away by how good it is. It's actually very drinkable". 

He said the beverage was not what most people would consider a beer and tasted more like a sour cider with hints of raisin or apple. 

Furthermore, the drink was flat because there was no carbonation more than 1,000 years ago. 

The brewers figured the alcohol content was about three per cent, similar to modern light beer. 

Gibbs said he was "surprised" that the core beer-making process appeared not to have fundamentally changed over the centuries, when compared to modern craft brewing. 

The old ways were, however, much more labor intensive and probably required job specialization, he had indicated. 

The experiment also bolstered archeological evidence of a link between baking and brewing in ancient times. He opined that leftover or old bread was used to make beer. 

There are no current plans to let curious beer lovers sample the brew.

Monday, March 19, 2018

PAS Pray for PH's Destruction

The Malaysian Insight pic by Hasnoor Hussain, March 17, 2018.

On Saturday, PAS preacher Ahmad Dusuki Abdul Rani led a thousand PAS members/supporters to prayer (“solat hajat”) – not for blessings – but for the selfish motive to beseech their God to intercede on their behalf in order to bring Pakatan Harapan to their knees. 

They had invoked His divine assistance to destroy the depravity that is PH. 

PAS must have realized they couldn’t do it themselves – so they had to call upon Him to deliver them from the evil PH. 

It is good that PAS have quietly recognized that post-Pakatan Rakyat (PH’s precursor) – they have become political eunuchs. That they are helpless as much as they are hopeless. 

They had gathered in Shah Alam, Selangor to supposedly celebrate the tenth year of PAS participation in the Selangor government. Somehow, I didn't think there was much joy in this so-called celebration. And I didn't think they were "rejoicing" together with PKR and/or DAP either. 

I would regard it more as PAS saying adios to their coalition colleagues. After all, they were responsible for the break-up of Pakatan Rakyat when they decided to abandon the Opposition to kiss up to UMNO.

The Malaysian Insight has written an interesting commentary on this Najib Razak-Abdul Hadi Awang bromance today. 

PAS are to perform a crucial role  that of a spoiler. By fielding candidates in 130 federal seats – the Islamist party believe they will pull away votes from the Malay-Muslim electorate that would have otherwise gone to Pakatan Harapan. 

At the very least, PAS leaders do not want the party rank-and-file to follow their hearts and vote for PH candidates. 

They believe this scenario will happen if there are straight fights between BN and PH – therefore, they are planning for three-cornered fights across peninsular Malaysia. 

One hitch. The assumption that PAS members will vote for their party, knowing they are unlikely to win. Do they think PAS members are stupid? 

We shall find out soon enough. 

Btw, they also prayed for victory in Selangor. LOL, I wish them well. 

PAS will need any help they can get because if you believe Rafizi Ramli & INVOKE’s Big Data prediction – in GE14, the Islamist party will be the ones that will be totally wiped out. 

Saturday’s EPL game between Liverpool and Watford was pretty much one-sided. The former crushed the Hornets 5-0 with relative ease. In fact, I felt sorry for Watford.

Mohamed Salah struck twice in the first half (4, 43) and then twice in the second half (77, 85) to secure his first Liverpool hat-trick and take his tally to 36 for the season in all competitions. 

That is the best haul in a debut season by a Reds player while he also chipped in with an assist to set up Roberto Firmino for a flicked finish in the forty-ninth minute. 

The Reds are back up to third place in the table – with rivals fourth-placed Tottenham facing fifth-placed Chelsea in their next match. It is good to know that Jurgen Klopp’s side has a sizeable seven-point cushion on The Blues. 

Yesterday, in the Scottish Premiership, Celtic had to contend with a goalless draw against battling Motherwell. 

In any case, the former earned one point and so, they are sitting comfortably at the top of the table with ten points ahead of their second-placed rival.

Roadkill in Malaysia

Many Malaysians know that our roads are death-traps. 

At the rate we kill ourselves in road accidents, it is no wonder if some of us get panic stricken when we get behind the wheel. The accident statistics are scary. 

A Bloomberg report dated June 20, 2017 cited statistics from the World Health Organisation for 2013, stating that Malaysia’s death rates on Malaysian roads represent the 3rd highest globally. 

According to the data, Malaysia registered a death rate of about 23 per 100,000 population. Based on this statistic against the estimated population of 30 million Malaysians, we are looking at between 7,000 and 8,000 people in the country die on our roads every year. 

The number of road fatalities are consistent with the data presented by the Transport Ministry – its minister Liow Tiong Lai had revealed in January 2017 that a total of 7,152 people died in road accidents in Malaysia in the year 2016. This was an increase from the total of 6,706 deaths that was recorded in the year 2015. 

For this particular post, I am not concerned about the humans. My thoughts go to the wildlife. 

Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister Hamim Samuri revealed on November 21, 2017 that up to 2,130 wild animals – most of them were endangered species – had become roadkill over the past five years. 

He said that for the first nine months of 2017 alone, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (Perhilitan) recorded the deaths of 212 wild animals.

We should know that highways and roads close to natural wildlife habitats are at high risk of accidents, and therefore, we can expect a higher rate of wildlife deaths. 

Malaysian drivers must exercise due care and vigilance while driving in areas that are prone to wildlife crossings to avoid killing the animals.

To be sure, roadkill is not unique to Malaysia. It is a global phenomenon, an outcome of human encroachment on animal habitats in the name of human development. 

I believe that our deference to animals that find their way onto our highways and roads should be at the same level of attention we would accord a child crossing the street on the way to and from school. Then, and only then, can roadkill be reduced or prevented altogether.

The female Malayan tiger – classified “critically endangered” – was believed to be hit by an MPV as she crossed the East Coast Expressway 2 between 12-01 AM, February 06, 2016. She died on the spot. Picture from The Star, Malaysia 

A two-year-old jumbo was found dead, lying in a pool of blood, by the side of the Gerik-Jeli Highway in Gerik, Perak. The juvenile pachyderm had likely been killed by a vehicle while it was trying to cross the road. Photo Credit: Alicia Solana Mena/MEME @, July 21, 2017 

The Pahang Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) personnel recording details of the dead tapir along Jalan Kuantan-Gambang in Pahang on July 11, 2016. 

Wildlife officers inspecting a dead tapir near Kampung Tualang in Raub, Pahang, January 31, 2018. Pic Facebook.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Disappearing Flora and Fauna

The world as we know it is coming to an end. If we don’t do something about it. 

I’m not referring to mankind but the flora and the fauna that we are sharing space with on this endangered planet. 

As the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) prepare to unveil a thorough diagnosis of the health of Earth’s plant and animal species, this is what we already know: 

Two species of vertebrate, animals with a backbone, have gone extinct every year, on average, for the past century. 

Scientists say Earth is undergoing a “mass extinction event”, the first since the dinosaurs disappeared some 65 million years ago, and only the sixth in the last half-a-billion years. 

About 41 percent of amphibian species and more than a quarter of mammals are threatened with extinction. 

About half of coral reefs have been lost in the last 30 years. 

The global populations of 3,706 monitored vertebrate species – fish, birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles – declined by nearly 60 percent from 1970 to 2012. 25,821 species of 91,523 assessed for the 2017 “Red List” update were classified as “threatened” – of which, 5,583 were “critically” endangered, 8,455 “endangered”, and 11,783 “vulnerable”.

There are an estimated 8.7 million plant and animal species on our planet. This means about 86 percent of land species and 91 percent of sea species remain undiscovered. 

Of the ones we do know, 1,204 mammal, 1,469 bird, 1,215 reptile, 2,100 amphibian, and 2,386 fish species are considered threatened. 

Also threatened are 1,414 insect, 2,187 mollusc, 732 crustacean, 237 coral, 12,505 plant, 33 mushroom, and six brown algae species. 

Annual economic losses as a result of deforestation and forest degradation alone may be as high as $4.5 trillion (RM17.7 trillion). 

The UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity held from October 18-29, 2010 in Nagoya, Japan had agreed on a 20-point plan to turn back biodiversity loss by 2020.  

The plan’s so-called “Aichi Biodiversity Targets” include halving the rate of habitat loss, expanding water and land areas under conservation, preventing the extinction of species on the threatened list, and restoring at least 15 percent of degraded ecosystems. 

The ambitious targets to preserve and make sustainable use of the Earth's natural resources are just that. Ambition. 

Are we really serious? I really don't know.

Notes: The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), due to bring out a major assessment on the health of the world’s species next week, is an independent body created by more than 100 countries in 2012. 

Its mission is to gather all the available science on the state of biodiversity, to project future changes, and advise governments on policies to better protect nature’s bounty. 

Presently, the IPBES has 128 countries as its members. The IPBES gets money from a trust fund replenished by voluntary contributions from member states.

It is not a UN body but was modelled on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose monumental reports helped alert the world to the dangers of global warming and paved the way for a 2015 global plan of action dubbed the Paris Agreement.

A Sample of Endangered Flora and Fauna:

Polyspora ceylanica, endemic to Sri Lanka, is on the list of Critically Endangered tea species. Photo credit: Anuradha Gunathilake. 

Puritan tiger beetle (Scientific name: Cicindela puritana) is found in a very small geographic area in north-eastern USA. In 2007, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service recommended the species to be uplisted to Endangered status.

The Emperor scorpion (Scientific name: Pandinus imperator) inhabits both tropical forest and open savannas of Africa. It was added to Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) due to concerns over the level of international trade in the species, and the potential effects on its populations. This listing means that international trade in the species should be carefully monitored and controlled.

The Critically Endangered Golden Mantella (Scientific name: Mantella aurantiaca) is facing severe declines in Madagascar. These tiny frogs need both healthy rainforests and clean freshwater ponds and these habitats are threatened throughout its range by logging, mining and slash and burn agriculture. 

The Roti island snake-necked turtle (Scientific name: Chelodina mccordi) is a Critically Endangered species that is endemic to Indonesia which has been largely threatened by collection for the international pet trade. 

The Hainan black-crested gibbon (Scientific name: Nomascus hainanus) is found only in the Bawangling National Nature Reserve on Hainan Island off of the coast of China. It is said that 95% of their original habitat has been lost. It is Critically Endangered and may be on the very brink of extinction. 

The Bornean orangutan (Scientific name: Pongo pygmaeus) faces an “extremely high risk of extinction in the wild”. Hunting and habitat loss are rapidly decimating their numbers. Criitically Endangered. 

The Daggernose Shark (Scientific name: Isogomphodon oxyrhynchus) lives in shallow tropical waters off north-eastern South America from Trinidad to northern Brazil. In the last ten years, the Daggernose Shark has seen a 90% decrease in population as a result of commercial fishing, both for its meat and as a bycatch. Critically Endangered. 

The Cuban crocodile (Scientific name: Crocodylus rhombifer) can only be found in Cuba's Zapata Swamp and the Isle of Youth. A decline greater than 80% in the population over the last three generations has been inferred due to the decline in habitat quality, exploitation, and effects of hybridization. Also illicit hunting of the crocodiles for meat has increased causing the resultant population decline. Critically Endangered. 

The Siberian tiger (Scientific name: Panthera tigris altaica) is Endangered. Almost all wild Siberian tigers live the south-eastern corner of Russia in the Sikhote-Alin mountain range east of the Amur River.