Friday, April 30, 2010

Influential Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga makes her debut on Time's annual 100 Most Influential People in the World list for 2010, which includes one hundred assorted leaders, thinkers, heroes and artists. Better still, she clinched the top spot in the list of 25 stars.

Lady Gaga's entry featured a tribute from veteran popstar Cyndi Lauper, who described the former's lyrics as 'incredibly literary' and 'sophisticated'. Lauper wrote: "When I see someone like Gaga, I sit back in admiration... She isn't a pop act, she is a performance artist. She herself is the art."

She certainly deserves the accolade!

I was visiting http://magickriver.blogspot.com/ and came across these pictures, some of which I am reproducing here – simply because they are stunning and surreal! Enjoy...

IGP Threatens

“IGP lashes out at critics” so screams this headline on page N4 of today’s Star. It would not be wrong to say that he was fuming mad at everybody for taking potshots at the police. This refers to Monday’s fatal shooting of 15-year old Aminulrasyid Amzah in Section 11 Shah Alam. Since then many parties have been expressing deep concern about trigger-happy police officers.


But it was his warning that made me wonder what kind of person we have as our Inspector-General of Police! He has threatened to call his men off the streets! Who is he to make this threat? Can he do this? Is it the case of an empty vessel making the most noise? Shouldn’t he be censured for making an irresponsible remark? Intimidating civil society is unbecoming of a public official – shouldn’t the Prime Minister just fire him?

Okay, I shall be polite and just ignore him. I shall pretend he is merely a gnat – insignificant and inconsequential. Believe me, people like him are plentiful in Malaysia. He is not worth half a second of my time. Why should I waste lines on this dimwit? My bigger concern is whether our police officers are properly trained in the difficult task of maintaining law and order. In the 1980s and 1990s, new police recruits were required to undergo a nine-month training program. This was then reduced to six and subsequently, in February this year, training for new recruits, was further reduced to just three months. This is the conveyor belt method of producing police personnel! But Federal police management (training) deputy director Mortadza Nazarene explained that the move was necessary to expedite the intake of some 60,000 policemen desperately needed to maintain peace and combat crime. So we are sacrificing quality for quantity? Not a smart way of doing things, right? Another case of Malaysia Boleh?

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, Liverpool leveled the tie when Alberto Aquilani converted Yossi Benayoun's cross with a fine finish (44). And they added a second early in extra time through Benayoun's half-volley (95). But Atletico Madrid’s Diego Forlan fired home a Jose Antonio Reyes cross (102) to produce a 2-1 result in Liverpool’s favor in this second leg. Even though the aggregate stood at 2-2, Liverpool has to exit from the Europa League all because of the ‘away goal’ rule.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

MCA Buffoonery

MCA leaders are maddeningly stupid. If they wish to show some semblance of dignity, they should just zip their mouths and not respond to other people’s balderdash. If they cannot do a simple task as this – then the next best option would be to herd themselves into Wisma MCA, amble into one of the large rooms where they should sit and stare sullenly at an empty wall and at the same time, chanting loudly in one collective ennui-inducing monotone: “Chinese voters have spurned MCA and rejected BN”, repeating it four hundred and forty-four times.

But no, they prefer to be unproductive. Instead of confronting themselves, they love to confront others; they take delight in engaging in a wasteful war of words with first, Perkasa and then, UMNO. The fact of the matter is that the majority of the Chinese are now rooting for “anything but BN”. So what if this shit-bag named Mohd Khir Toyo wrote in his blog that Chinese voters in Hulu Selangor failed to show appreciation for the BN federal government’s initiatives, choosing instead to back PR – even I would admit that it is a fair comment. Why should the MCA defend something that is indefensible in the first place? Importantly, these MCA pinheads should assemble and do a post-mortem of their Hulu Selangor strategies – if they have any, that is – and if they finally can realize the futility of their cause, they would hopefully re-examine their own hopeless position within BN. But it doesn’t matter actually because to be honest, MCA is doomed, whether they are in or out of BN!

Now that Mahathir has come out in defense of Perkasa and in the process, scolded MCA – I bet you these same MCA flunkies will maintain a servile silence. That is the nature of MCA politicians – cowardly, gutless, impotent. I hope my assessment of them is wrong, but I doubt it.

The Steep Price of Beer

Since after all, I did refer to Christmas, therefore, I should be in a celebratory mood, shouldn't I? What better way than to have a beer or two after work? Still, I can't help but being drawn to what the Carlsberg managing director, Soren Ravin said on Tuesday that the company will increase beer prices next month. Certainly, this news is likely to put a damper on my drinking! Okay, the word should be ‘unlikely’ rather than ‘likely’ because if you remember your Economics class, beer is one of those few products which enjoy inelastic demand. Anyway, this Carlsberg fella was trying to justify the price increase by explaining that the company was playing catch-up with the rise in price of raw materials such as malt and hops which have increased 10 percent on average over the past 5 years, blah-blah-blah. Of course, drinkers know that beer companies will just simply pass on the costs to consumers. In fact, he went on to express his company’s optimism that the industry will grow by about 2 percent this year. For sure, he is right – when I first heard the news of this impending beer price increase, straightaway I proceeded to Gatsby and downed two beers!

And talking about price increases, I wonder why when the cost of living is still edging skyward, yet salaries are stagnant for most people. They could do with a wage increase! Now I don’t know who Bill Coleman is but he has one quote attributed to him that I thought is very appropriate: “Lack of salary increase does create the belief that you’re underpaid, or certainly that you could do better elsewhere”. Haha, he’s right, y’know!

Najib Keeps Promise


Najib kept his promise and on this occasion, he presented RM3 million to SJK(C) Rasa, a pledge he made during the Hulu Selangor campaign. That’s a lot of money! I sure hope the country’s finances are in good shape. But even so, can we afford to let Najib give away money so freely?

What if Malaysians wise up to his ploy? What if the local populace suddenly compel their MPs and/or state assemblypersons to prematurely resign and thereby paving the way for by-elections? Then, the people can start asking for goodies and the politicians will oblige! If what Anwar Ibrahim said is true about the RM100 million BN war-chest for just the Hulu Selangor by-election, the country will surely head for bankruptcy. And why not? BN is so desperate to win by-elections, that they have absolutely no qualms to spend millions of ringgit, all of which is really money held in trust by the Federal Government on behalf of all Malaysian taxpayers! Put the Santa Claus suit on for Najib because even though it is only April, Christmas has come early to Malaysia!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Whale Poop

There are some people who disapprove of going to pubs to imbibe a couple of beers (well, okay, more than a couple – at least for me anyway!) and other types of drinks. I suppose these people would consider it a waste of time and money. But I beg to differ.

I am not going to brag why I enjoy going to pubs – but one particular visit (not by me!) was enough to produce a brilliant of an idea that did go to contributing to the study of science! Wow!

Scientist Steve Nicol admitted that the idea to research whale poop came from a casual pub chat among Antarctic researchers in Australia’s island state of Tasmania. Whale droppings have emerged as a natural ocean fertilizer which could help combat global warming by allowing the Southern ocean to absorb more carbon dioxide (The Sun, April 27, 2010, p 19).

This research by the Australian Antarctic Division suggests that whales naturally fertilize surface waters with iron-rich whale feces, allowing the whole eco-system to send more carbon dioxide into deep waters. Nicol's team used 27 samples of feces from the near-extinct Baleen Whale. They found iron to be as much as 10 million more times present in the fecal matter than in the Antarctic Ocean (Webpage: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/291191, accessed April 28, 2010).

So here's the theory: Phytoplankton bloom in surface waters that contain lots of water-soluble iron. Krill eat the phytoplankton and take in all that iron. Baleen whales eat krill, and likewise take in all that iron. It's like recycling, only better, because instead of getting 5 cents back for an iron bottle, you're getting a tasty meal. Then the whale poops, and it acts as a fertilizer, releasing all that iron back into the water. It's like the circle of life.

Photo of whale poop after a humpback whale was feeding on krill:

Image credit: Blue Ocean Society (http://marinelife.about.com/od/watchingandphotography/ig/Humpback-Images/Whale-poop.htm)
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It’s also worth remembering that even if you don’t actually come up with great ideas – you should still enjoy your beers anyway! "Beer is proof that God loves us, and wants us to be happy" – this is supposedly attributed to Benjamin Franklin and I cannot agree with him more!

MCA Excuse

It is laughable that the MCA has blamed Perkasa for the loss of Chinese support. Dr. Chua Soi Lek, MCA’s president himself lambasted Ibrahim Ali for his own party’s abject failure to deliver the Chinese votes to BN during the recent by-election. It would seem that the pea-brained Chinese in the MCA are still in self-denial, refusing to acknowledge that the MCA has already outlived its usefulness and relevance in Malaysian politics. More so, the Chinese in Malaysia have long abandoned the MCA, and this truth hurts.

It is creepy but I have to agree with Ibrahim Ali: “Whether Perkasa exists or not, the results would have been the same. The Chinese voters have rejected MCA even before Perkasa was formed”.

As this Malay ultra said: “I pity Chua Soi Lek as Perkasa is the only excuse he could think of”. Yeah lor, the MCA president is very kesian (pitiful). Actually to be honest, I am not sure which of the two organizations I pity more – Perkasa or MCA?!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

3 Possibilities

SNHU classes began yesterday to herald a new term and I have already dished out homework to my students. I am pushy this semester, it would seem.

Today, The Malaysian Insider reported that Dr. Peter Vanezis (left) cannot rule out the possibility that Teoh Beng Hock had suffered injuries to his body before falling to his death. He had also admitted that a broad bruise on the left side of Teoh’s neck could have been caused by a chokehold, a move he had demonstrated in court yesterday.

Dr Vanezis added that the move may have knocked out the deceased and at the very least could have left Teoh dizzy enough to disorient him when he fell out a 14th floor window.

So Teoh’s death could be attributed to any of these 3 possibilities: Suicide, murder, or death by misadventure.

Greenwashing

April 22 is Earth Day and I don’t even remember it! There are even environmentalists who believe there isn’t much to celebrate this Earth Day. Although it is designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment – yet, the level of harmful emissions marches ever upward, and the destruction of critical natural habitats continues unabated. As the failure of the Copenhagen climate-change talks demonstrated, the political will to tackle these escalating threats to our planet on a worldwide level just isn’t there. And today’s article “Earth Day 40 years on” (p 19) in The Sun is a timely reminder that the real excitement on this issue seems to come from businesses which are falling over each other to trumpet their achievements in going green!
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Yes, Earth Day has been hijacked by big business – and they have been religiously promoting it as if they are the saviors of the planet! So many companies nowadays are pitching green products. The premise behind green products is simple: replace the old, wasteful wares from unenlightened generations past with more efficient and modern counterparts. But regrettably, some of these allegedly “green” products don’t save very much energy at all. Rather some of these devices actually consume more energy than they save, defeating the original purpose of being green. Even environmental villains such as the oil companies and big agribusinesses are all disingenuously spinning their products and policies as environmentally friendly.

The truth is that much of what passes as corporate environmentalism is nothing more than a marketing gimmick dubbed “greenwashing” – as argued by environmentalists such as Rebecca Tarbotton of Rainforest Action Network. As consumers, we shouldn't be so trusting.

Check out these ads below to see what I mean:



Monday, April 26, 2010

Dr. Peter Vanezis's Testimony


The Malaysian Insider today reported on the resumption of the Teoh Beng Hock inquest, highlighting the conviction of British pathologist Dr. Peter Vanezis (who was hired by the MACC) that Teoh was not strangled before he died but was more circumspect about the events that led to his demise.
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In another Malaysian Insider write-up, Teoh’s sister, Lee Lan, who acted as spokesperson, told reporters outside the court that she found Dr. Vanezis’s final report (made available to the public after he took to the witness stand this morning) “unprofessional and unethical”.

She said the family did not accept his finding that her brother was alive and fully conscious when he plunged to his death from a window on the 14th floor of Plaza Masalam here on July 16 last year.

She pointed out that the British pathologist had admitted the background information which had led to Teoh’s plunge was important to find out the real cause of his death. Lee Lan said Dr. Vanezis’s decision not to probe deeper by asking questions of the MACC officials who had briefed him on the events leading to the fall reflected poorly on his credibility. “He said he’s not a detective,” she said, quoting the forensic expert.

“But how can he just accept what they say like this?” she quizzed.

Dr. Vanezis had informed the court that he had taken the MACC’s version of events into account but that it did not necessarily mean he accepted the data was 100 per cent accurate.

Hmmn, doesn’t Dr. Vanezis sound more like a diplomat than a pathologist?

A BN Buy-election

Check out Art Harun’s posting today in his blog “ARTiculations” on the Hulu Selangor buy-election (yep, the correct word is buy-election, not by-election! Anwar Ibrahim quoted a sum of RM100 million spent by the federal government to win this by-election, and Najib Razak had defended the federal spending saying it was not vote-buying but really to help the public! Wah, he is so benevolent and generous to the people of Hulu Selangor! Kindly refer to webpage http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/61354-bn-accuses-pkr-of-paying-voters). Art himself wrote that many Malays do not know the difference between a “gift” (for which they should be thankful or grateful) and something which they are already entitled to.

He was referring to the RM50,000 paid to each of the 100 FELDA settlers. That money was not a gift from the government. Nor was it a contribution of any sort from the government. That money belonged to the settlers in the first place because their lands were been taken away more than 10 years ago. That money was long due to them. So there was nothing to be thankful to the government for paying it.

They are owed about a million each for their lands. They are now paid 50,000 bucks and they thought it was a gift.

Okay, somebody should tell them in their faces that they have been played for a fool.

Art also talked about the Indians being a predictable lot. They would follow whatever the Barisan Nasional say. Even if UMNO rejected their own party’s preferred candidate, the Indians would still support BN. MIC had wanted Palanivel. Local UMNO boys preferred Mugilan. UMNO head honchos put in he-whose-name-is-truly-1Malaysia. And the Indians still supported him.

Again, somebody should tell them to have a mind of their own and stick to it!

But even as I reproduce the above comments – let us not be quick to judge the electorate. We should be cautious about claims that are more generalization than fact. There are significant numbers of Malays and Indians who are enlightened and who see through the trickeries of BN. After all, Zaid Ibrahim did pocket 23,272 votes!

It is interesting to read that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioner Abu Kassim Mohamed was surprised at the legal setbacks the MACC faced in recent corruption cases. Abu Kassim had told Nanyang Siang Pau that the MACC had been confident of winning the case against the two former Perak PKR state exco members and three others, but had to drop the charges in the end for having failed to establish a prima facie case against them (The Sun, April 26, 2010, p 6). I am suspicious, aren’t you?

Bribing the Chinese

In a post-election report by The Malaysian Insider today, it highlighted the promises Najib made to the Chinese in Hulu Selangor in the final days of the campaign: An allocation of RM3 million for a Chinese primary school; RM90,000 for the Ulu Yam Kwang Tung cemetery and more allocations for Hokkien and muhibbah associations in the area. But the support level from the Chinese voters was reduced from about 35 per cent in Election 2008 to less than 30 per cent yesterday.

And of course, Malay right-wing group Perkasa is quick on the trigger, and is demanding that the Barisan Nasional government review election pledges made in Chinese areas in Hulu Selangor because of the community’s poor support for the BN coalition! (Webpage http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/61328-rethink-aid-to-chinese-areas-says-perkasa).

Let it be said that Malaysian Chinese are nobody’s fools, and that the majority of them are firm on the principle that they should reject BN! It also proves that the Chinese are not easily bought!

Rangers narrowly beat Hibernian 1-0, and so took the Scottish Premier League title, and leaving Celtic as the second-placed team again! Shame on you, Celtic!

In the Liverpool-Burnley game, the former turned on power only in the second half and zapped the latter 4-0. Steven Gerrard's second-half brace (52, 59) and further goals from Maxi Rodriguez (74) and Ryan Babel (90+4) relegated Burnley and kept Liverpool's top-four hopes alive, just barely alive!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

BN Wins in Hulu Selangor

BN has managed to reclaim the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat after their candidate P Kamalanathan defeated PKR's Zaid Ibrahim with a 1,725 vote-majority. No surprise here! It is small consolation that BN did not garner the 6,000-vote majority they desired. According to Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, BN's target was based on the majority obtained by the ruling coalition in winning the three state seats in the last general election (Webpage http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/fmt-english/politics/barisan-nasional/4919-bn-targets-6000-majority).


Celtic's 2-0 victory over Dundee United guaranteed them second place in the SPL; their goals coming from Diomansy Kamara (30) and Robbie Keane (penalty, 90+4).

Manchester City moved to within one point of fourth-placed Tottenham as Arsenal's mathematical chances of winning the league title disappeared when the two teams battled to a goalless draw. Arsene Wenger described this match as “a locked game of very few chances”.

Winless

Well, I did not win!

The Division W International Speech & Table Topic Contest yesterday was something of a disillusionment. A disappoinment. A failing.

I do not wish to describe how I feel anymore – whether yesterday or today even.

I am just going to sulk for awhile.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Do I Have a Winning Speech?

Today is the only day I can prepare my speech contest. Finally, at 7:11 PM, I finished my draft of tomorrow’s speech. Ever since I decided to rewrite 50% of my original speech, I couldn’t come up with something that is better – until this evening. Even so, as I read it twice and thrice, I made small revisions. By 8:19 PM, I believe I have a speech that I am confident to deliver. Dare I say it? It is possibly a winning speech. By 9:27 PM, I’ve got my speech title. By tomorrow, I will present my speech with fearless confidence. I will aim to win.

DAP’s Lim Kit Siang said in Parliament yesterday, it is a show of “brute majority” when an administration will flex its muscles to manipulate public institutions and tweak the due processes in the rule of law when challenged. The two PKR-turned-independent state lawmakers friendly to the BN in Perak, Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi and Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu, along with three others were acquitted by a Sessions Court in Ipoh today – they were charged with corruption involving a RM180 million housing development project in Seri Iskandar (near Ipoh) – after what many viewed as a half-hearted attempt at prosecuting them. Judge Azhaniz Teh Azman Teh delivered the highly-anticipated decision in open court and declared that the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case against the five accused. Ah-huh.

Both these turncoats and their former DAP Jelapang counterpart, Hee Yit Foong – her gripping Oscar-winning performance to defect from DAP ensured her a Datukship – have now received their just rewards for delivering Perak to BN. I am sure there will be a big party tonight!

Atletico Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0, and taking a slender Europa League semi-final first-leg advantage to Anfield next week thanks to a ninth-minute strike from former Manchester United front man Diego Forlan. Mind you, Liverpool had to endure a grueling 1,200-mile journey by land to meet Atletico Madrid.

Kamal the Groveller

Last night, in Serendah, Kamalanathan – Mr 1 Malaysia or “Kamal Alan Nathan” hugged Ibrahim Ali, the man who leapt from party to party for his one true cause – Malay rights in a country where it is already entrenched in the Federal Constitution.
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I must say this aspiring ‘compromise’ candidate is very expressive – first he kisses Muhyiddin’s hand, now he hugs Ibrahim. I am curious to know what he will “do” to Najib if he gets a chance?!?!

Kamalanathan was not just wanting to be nice. More than that, he was groveling for attention from his UMNO masters. One can only wonder why he did what he did. For a person whose profession is supposedly all about communication – what was he really trying to communicate? That we should keep friends close, but we ought to keep enemies even closer?

Mahathirist Baloney

Ex-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad leeringly called PKR candidate Zaid Ibrahim a “frog”, saying Hulu Selangor voters should not trust anyone who might get drunk to represent them (Webpage http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/60946-dr-m-says-dont-trust-zaid-the-frog). Ouch! Here we go again – this UMNO leader condemning and ridiculing Zaid! I cannot fault those other UMNO fellas who brought up this “drinking issue” – it’s not their fault that their brains are lodged in their arses! – but what can I say about Mahathir who should know better than to talk baloney?

In fact, PAS secretary-general Mustafa Ali had declared that all past prime ministers in Malaysia had consumed alcohol except for Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

In the same telling Malaysian Insider report (Webpage http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/60964-dr-m-defends-sons-stake-in-brewing-alcohol-controversy-), Mahathir scoffed at this claim but interestingly did not dispel its truth and said that “maybe” it was true but it was “in the past”. Hahaha! Isn’t this what PR is peeved about – UMNO is trying to hang Zaid for the same drinking habit he indulged “in the past”!

“Last time, we all wanted to be like the white man. That’s why we say about our former leaders drinking.

“I am not saying that I drank but then of course people will make all kinds of allegations. If they do not have anything of substance other than that to win the support of the people, then they can raise whatever they like,” he added. Now is he referring to PR or he is also referring to UMNO? Let’s not forget that Mahathir is an expert in doublespeak. Anyway, if I listen to him speak some more – I think I will throw up!

When questioned if he felt that by drinking, a leader would lose his ability to lead the nation, the veteran politician said: “It is for the people to judge whether a Prime Minister can lead the nation or not. In my time, I led for 22 years.” Can you understand the question and did you also understand Mahathir’s answer? I leave it to readers to arrive at their own conclusion.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Two Speeches in One Day

I went to the IJM Toastmasters Club to present my speech #9 – actually assignment #1: Read a Story from the advanced manual Interpretive Reading. I am reading from a passage (pages 75-78) of Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner. This is a gripping and moving book that conjures a rich tapestry of prose that describes the fragility of the friendship between two boys, Amir and Hassan, and symbolized by the kites the boys fly together amidst a familiar world that is fast disappearing, a vivid portrayal of Afghanistan more than thirty years ago. My evaluator was S Ramesh and he judged I did well. He had closed his eyes, he said and he could visualize the story as I narrated it.

Then I proceeded to KL to the Metro Toastmasters Club where I presented my tenth and last speech – assignment #5 The Humorous Speech from the advanced manual Humorously Speaking. The title of my speech was “Superman’s Flight” and my evaluator was the Division C International Speech champion, ATMB CL Stephen Fernando (from the PJ Hilton Toastmasters Club). He insisted that I can deliver humor well and I proved it tonight. But he cautioned that I should treat all assignment speeches as if they are contest-level speeches, so a strong message is imperative. Thank you, Stephen, I will certainly take note.

Wow! I rejoice. I jubilate. I celebrate this achievement of completing my 10 speeches in 10 days! I don’t want to go through this again, that’s for sure!

The Malay Mail reported today that Rosmah Mansor, wife of the prime minister, campaigned for the BN candidate in the Hulu Selangor by-election, asking the people of Felda Kg Soeharto to vote for P Kamalanathan. Rosmah said the people there should remember and appreciate the BN's deeds in championing the cause of Felda settlers for years. If we have to be forever grateful for something that the government of the day is duty-bound to do, then we will see the monopoly of power imprisoned in the clutches of BN simply because they have been the only government that we know since independence.

After all, as John F Kennedy once said: “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future”. Malaysia is certainly ripe for change. We must transform if we are to have a future!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Scotland, Oh Scotland!


I went to the CIMA Malaysia Toastmasters Club today and did my advanced speech #1: Warm Up Your Audience from the advanced manual Humorously Speaking. My speech title was “Scotland, Oh Scotland!” and my evaluator was DTM Sharmini. I thought my humor was a little slow in coming although Sharmini said my delivery was relaxed yet lively, and I effectively conveyed warmth to everyone in the audience. Also my humor was “amusing in a discreet and witty manner” – one requirement of this speech. Overall, she claimed to enjoy my speech. Oh well…I can still do better, I guess!

I was tapped to be the evaluator for Parasakti Dharumaseharan who was doing her advanced speech, and for my effort – I won The Best Evaluator award. Anyway, this was my eighth speech and I have two more to go tomorrow – before I wrap up this whole speechmaking exercise. Believe me, I will be glad when this is over!

UMNO is the villain in this Hulu Selangor campaigning because party leaders have been willfully engaged in character assassination of Zaid Ibrahim, the PKR candidate. Today, The Malaysian Insider (Webpage
http://themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/60409-reject-drinking-candidate-umno-tells-voters) identified two of the UMNO malcontents who spoke with the intention to incite and inflame.

First, it was the Seremban UMNO chief, Ishak Ismail who spoke at a rally in Kuala Kubu Baru last Sunday: “I know Zaid well, he was my classmate, he drinks and he gets drunk”. In fact, Ishak (left) said he was upset with Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when the latter appointed Zaid minister during his tenure as prime minister of Malaysia.

Second, UMNO Youth leader from the movement’s orators unit Halim Tuah (left) told party loyalists that PKR has insulted the voters for nominating Zaid. “PKR has presented a candidate who is a drunkard, an alcoholic, there is a mini bar in his house where beer and whisky are served,” said Halim to cheers, probably from a partisan crowd.

If you don’t believe me, you go meet him you can smell from his breath,” Halim added for good measure.

Zaid, don’t worry lah! I will not think any less of you. I will not reject you just because you enjoy a drink or two. After all, I enjoy my drinking too!

The Tale of the Drinking Politician

Campaigning in Hulu Selangor borders on the ridiculous. The issue of alcohol consumption has become an UMNO campaign attack on Zaid Ibrahim’s character. Zaid, himself, has admitted to drinking in the past but has promised Hulu Selangor voters that he is now a reformed man. Even PAS has thrown their weight behind this PKR candidate. But the attack continues.

DAP’s Lim Kit Siang has come up with an intriguing theory that the malicious attacks on Zaid Ibrahim were actually part of a despicable plot to implicate top UMNO leaders such as the Prime Minister and the Home Minister for also being sinful drinkers. “Their objective is to attack Najib and Hishammuddin because Hishammuddin is now dragged in, Najib also dragged in. The people behind this attack, are they going for a larger target?” quipped Lim (Webpage
http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/60730-kit-siang-claims-beer-bashing-is-umno-ploy-to-implicate-najib-hisham). Lim’s remarks were made because photos of Hishammuddin allegedly consuming alcohol were being circulated on the Internet. And there were photos too of others indulging in similar behavior. This is what we meant by “gutter politics”. UMNO shouldn’t have started it, but now that this wee issue of Zaid drinking alcohol a long time ago has snowballed – it may even cause a frightful avalanche that may well, bury many others, including those from UMNO. Oh the stupidity of it all! Talking about stupid people mouthing stupid issues has made me very thirsty – if only I can have my chilled beer now!

UMNO Candidate in Hulu Selangor

The way that the heavy guns of UMNO all came in force to campaign for Kamalanathan in Hulu Selangor – as opposed to MIC – would seem to indicate that the BN candidate belongs more to UMNO than to MIC!


This is the MIC candidate who bowed respectfully to Muhyiddin Yassin and kissed his hand! And when asked at an unscheduled press conference somewhere in Hulu Selangor (Ladang Kerling, to be precise) and which was reported by The Malaysian Insider today, he looked miffed, exclaiming: “Kiss his hand? When did I kiss his hand? Show me where I did that”.

But he was quick to retort that even if he had indeed kissed Muhyiddin’s hand, it was not a wrongful act but was merely a depiction of Malaysian culture. Whoa! I didn’t know that! I thought Kamalanathan was groveling – if it was behind closed doors, probably he would have kissed Muhyiddin’s ass! Don’t forget – he owes to UMNO for being selected out of the blue to be the candidate. And he even had the audacity to defend Perkasa!

So just in case, Malaysians are quick to dismiss this fella – don’t! He’s got potential – in fact, I will venture to add here that he may even take over the reins of MIC from Samy Vellu. And why not? He has this astounding capacity to suck up to UMNO and Perkasa.

He also can be very cocky. On April 18, in Kampong Sungai Buaya, Batang Kali, Kamalanathan boasted “I will win Hulu Selangor”. He has vowed to Najib that he will take back the federal seat, formerly a BN stronghold, and deliver it to the latter as a gift for his first year in office. Action, lah, he? How insulting can he be? Is it a prize for him to give away to somebody else? Shouldn’t the people of Hulu Selangor have this prize because it is theirs and theirs to keep?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bad Luck

Early this morning, I received a text message that I would not be able to speak at the AFC Toastmasters Club meeting this evening. I had to call other Clubs (which had Tuesday meetings) and one of the few people that I got in touch with was DTM SK Walia. I am grateful that she pointed me to Faye, who is President of the PJ Hilton Toastmasters Club, and I did managed to secure a speaking slot at this eleventh hour.

I was pleasantly surprised to find familiar faces at this particular club meeting (e.g. Yeoh, Foong, Emil, Jamilah, Bushra, Lucas) besides Walia and Stephen Fernando. In fact, excluding PJ Hilton Toastmasters Club – there were representatives from 8 other Toastmasters clubs who attended this evening’s meeting.

Anyway, besides doing my speech, I was also the General Evaluator. My speech was titled “Bad Luck”, assignment # 3 Make Them Laugh from the advanced manual Humorously Speaking. SK Walia was my evaluator and she was very kind to describe my speech as “excellent”. She also highlighted that my speech contained humorous stories that had a twist, and this made my speech very engaging. I didn’t believe that I did that well, really, but I am not going to argue with a Distinguished Toastmaster!

I have now finished speech # 7 and I have only 3 more speeches to go! I am mighty pleased that I am very much on track!

MidValley Class Project



Twenty-two of my Diploma in Business students made their way to MidValley yesterday to do exploratory research – primarily through observations as part of this semester’s Marketing Research project work.


Liverpool moved back into sixth place after an emphatic 3-0 win over West Ham. Yossi Benayoun put them ahead in unusual fashion, diverting a Steven Gerrard cross in off his stomach (19). David Ngog added a second with a fiercely struck snap shot from a Maxi Rodriguez cross (29) as the Reds dominated. And after the break a Sotiros Kyrgiakos header came back off a post and in off the leg of Hammers keeper Robert Green (89).

Monday, April 19, 2010

An Expensive PR Spectacle

I did my sixth advanced speech this evening at the KL Advanced Toastmasters Club meeting – The Play which is assignment # 4 from the Interpretive Reading manual. Members generally believed that this was a difficult assignment and that I was very brave to attempt it. I did a portion of the Act IV Scene I from Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice”. This segment tells of Portia’s success in defeating Shylock and releasing Antonio from his bond – if at all you can recall this story from your English Literature class! Although my interpretation of this play was by no means brilliant, still it turned out okay. My evaluator was ATMB ALS Lucky who highlighted two main areas for improvement. One was to work harder so that I could carry different types of voices to characterize the different characters – Arvind in the open evaluation suggested I give one of the characters an Italian accent. The second suggestion was that I consider using props (e.g. caps, scarves) to add color to the characters and also to allow me to get into the respective characters more easily.

I was also the evaluator for Nini Yeoh who did her project speech # 2 from the basic Competent Communication manual, titled “Retirement Plan”. Nini like me will represent Area W1 at the Division W International Speech & Table Topics Contest this Saturday.

Well, I have now completed six speeches and I have only 4 more to go!

Of late we have been treated to a well-orchestrated PR spectacle of Najib and Rosmah visiting the US of A. I have always been critical of these extravagant displays of cheap publicity that Najib seems to love to indulge in. It already puts me off if these PR exercises are celebrated in the country, it is even worse when it is done abroad.

So I trembled with disgust when I read Tunku Aziz’s article in The Malaysian Insider today, when he wrote: “And so it has finally happened. What a great honor for Malaysia. Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the prime minister of 1 Malaysia fame, was thrown a few crumbs, a few brief moments to savor, exchanging pleasantries with US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit.

Naturally, it was not quite the same as being driven down Pennsylvania Avenue to be welcomed at the portal of the White House, but I am being churlish as usual where Najib is concerned. Najib did get to see Obama via the tradesman’s entrance.

What irks me about this non-event meeting is that we had to resort to employing a very expensive public relations firm, for which read grubby Washington lobbyists, for close to US$25 million (RM80 million), give or take a million dollar here and there. Small change I suppose when it is not your hard-earned money”.

Wow, so this is how our money is being spent! And all for what?


As Tunku Aziz said, “A photo opportunity at most for Najib, but for Malaysia, toeing submissively the American/Israeli policy against Iran. We decried Junior Bush’s attack on Iraq because we were not convinced that the claimed weapons of mass destruction really existed. Why are we so quick off the mark this time to believe the Israeli-inspired conspiracy against Iran? Where is the incontrovertible evidence that Iran is building nuclear weapons? What have we done to urge the Americans to dismantle Israeli nuclear warheads?

On this issue, there has to be a great deal of soul-searching to be done on our part if we are to remain true to our sense of justice and if we wish enhance our standing among the morally decent nations of the world”.

But you know what? The New Straits Times today reported this revealing one-liner: “Najib saw his meeting with Obama as a clear indication of Washington's new attitude towards Malaysia”. Yeah, true wad! Malaysia which used to be vocal in support of Iran now supports American hegemony over Iran!

And I also read that there has been zilch mention of Najib in the local (i.e. American) press. This tells you a lot about his news value!

Wait a minute! I have erred. Malaysian Mirror did report on April 15 that Najib was in fact mentioned in The Washington Post – not as a news item but in Al Kamen’s column called “In the Loop”. This very significant mention was made on the day after the summit closed: “"The winners at this week's nuclear summit were easily identified: They were the ones who got bilats with President Obama – not a bodybuilding term, it stands for bilateral, or one-on-one, chat – showing their prestige and importance". Chinese President Hu Jintao who had 90 minutes with Obama headed the list, Kamen said and went on to name a few more – King Abdullah of Jordan, Najib, President Viktor Yanukovich of Ukraine, President Serzh Sargsian of Armenia, Nigerian acting president Goodluck Jonathan and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. And the columnist added that Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama reportedly requested but did not get a meeting with Obama.

So Malaysians should stand tall that we can afford to splurge US$25 million in order that our Najib got a 40-minute tete-a-tete with Barack Obama! This works out to about US$625,000 per minute! For sure, the PR company laughed all the way to the bank! And Malaysians are left looking stupid again!

Najib says his head is on chopping block


On April 06, Prime Minister Najib Razak speaking in Singapore claimed that he had put his political career on the line by committing to purging rent-seeking and patronage politics in Malaysia’s economy.

He said this was because those who benefit from these practices are powerful and politically connected, and he hinted that they could even exert their influence in UMNO, the party of which he is president.

Najib, who had made needs-based instead of race-based affirmative action an important plank of his administration (let’s all clap loudly!), said that his approach had put him in a “dangerous” position (Webpage http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/58935-najib-says-his-head-is-on-chopping-block).

I remembered I was visibly touched when I read this, so much so that I nearly finished two boxes of tissues stemming the flood of tears gushing freely down from my weepy eyes. My heart went out to him because he sounded so sincere, so earnest, so bold in his aspirations for our country. But mind you, Najib has not achieved anything yet. It’s all tiresome talking by a tired-looking Najib!

But at the same time, I want to be fair to him and so I will reserve my judgment until there is clear evidence that the changes Najib spoke about have actually been achieved.

So far, Najib doesn’t inspire confidence. When he speaks, I don’t trust him. Worse, the more he talks the more he contradicts himself! Remember how he torpedoed his own 1Malaysia concept with his unthinking endorsement of "Malay First, Malaysian Second”?

Dreary Marking Job

This weekend that was just over was a busy one because I buried myself with marking exam scripts. Even now, I am still struggling with the marking of stacks and stacks of answer sheets. What a life! I do believe most lecturers abhor this assessment part of their jobs because it is something that is best described as painstakingly tedious and drudgingly laborious . Well, I am being honest here. Cannot we outsource this humdrum process? Sigh!

A late Wigan comeback has all but ended Arsenal's title bid. Theo Walcott's neat finish (41) gave Arsenal the lead, which they doubled via Mikael Silvestre's header from a corner (48). Three goals in a 11-minute blitz turned the game in Wigan's favour late on, with Ben Watson side-footing in the first (80). Then a mistake from Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski allowed Titus Bramble to head Wigan level (89) and then, deep into injury time Charles N'Zogbia's strike won it (90+1).

It was a stunning end to a game that Arsenal had seemed certain to win and in the process keep alive a title bid that was reawakened by Chelsea's 2-1 defeat at Spurs on Saturday. Now with this 2-3 defeat – Arsenal is set to be trophyless again!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

1 Malaysia Silliness

Deputy Prime Minister and BN election director Muhyiddin Yassin who is spearheading the Hulu Selangor by-election showed how asinine he is by pointing out that his candidate P Kamalanathan's name is one that truly reflects the 1 Malaysia brand! He mentioned that his name had elements of the three major races in Malaysia: Kamal is a Malay name, Than sounds like the Chinese surname Tan and Nathan is an Indian name. Big deal! I call this ass-marketing!
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Celtic scored two goals in the last 10 minutes to stun Hibernian 3-2 to further delay a potential title party for arch rivals, Rangers. Rangers need only 5 points from their remaining 5 matches to clinch a second successive SPL title.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Life & Death

This morning, I also made a return visit to MIM Toastmasters of Kuala Lumpur Club (thanks to Geoff Andrew), and I did my speech # 2: Leave Them with a Smile from the advanced manual, Humorously Speaking. My speech title was “Life & Death”. My evaluator was the eloquent ACG CL Ahmad Fakhri who explained that this was a challenging speech that requires me to express emotions that swing from being humorous to being serious. He said that my speech was – to use his own words – ‘brilliantly-choreographed’. But if I had done well, I must also admit that his evaluation was also exceptional – I thoroughly enjoyed his excellent wordplay.

I was a little more nervous than usual when I came for this meeting because I prepared this speech only at 6.30 AM this morning itself. And I surprised myself when I contributed a joke during the Humor Session too. I didn’t know I could be funny!

I have now reached the halfway mark. I have completed 5 speeches, and I have 5 speeches remaining. If this continues, I will be done by Thursday! So, if all goes well, I should celebrate – perhaps have a couple of beers? I don’t know why but suddenly, the image of Tiger Crystal beer lighted up in my mind.

And in the afternoon, I attended the Division B International Speech and Table Topic contest and saw and heard 5 International Speech contestants on stage. Dennis Wee was the champion, In the Table Topic contest, G Sivalingam was declared the winner from amongst 5 speakers also.
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After today, only the Division W contest remains. I have now heard the champions from Divisions C, P and B. If I can claim victory next week, my chances are bright in Miri. Don’t ask me why but I just know it. After Miri, it is the US of A where the winner will represent District 51. An enticing prospect!

The Art of Boredom

I did assignment # 4: Keep Them Laughing from the advanced manual Humorously Speaking at the MIHRM Toastmasters Club yesterday evening with my speech title “The Art of Boredom”. Thankfully, everybody laughed and I was glad. To me, that is one measure whether I did well with regards to a humorous speech. In any case, my evaluator was ACB KC Ng who said that I delivered humor well. His one itsy-bitsy advice for me was to pause more effectively. What's more, I won the Best Speaker award and earned a blue TI ribbon for my entertaining effort.

This was my fourth speech and I have 6 more to go!

The MIC, which was again given the mandate to contest the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat, must deliver the seat for Barisan Nasional (BN), Prime Minister and BN chairperson Najib Razak said (Webpage
http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/60147-najib-mic-must-win-hulu-selangor, posted yesterday). Najib highlighted that it was important for the MIC to prove itself as a national party serving not only the Indians but all communities. Now this is where I cannot fathom his logic. MIC stands for Malaysian Indian Congress, and by virtue of the name and membership, they cannot but serve Indians. If Najib wants political parties to cater to all communities, then dissolve all race-based parties – which include MIC, MCA, and UMNO! Why not make BN into one political entity rather than as a coalition of different parties?

Najib added: “I decided on Kamalanathan (as the BN candidate) to fulfill the demand of the local voters. This means that the people’s views on a suitable candidate to be MP (is given priority)”. If this is true, then BN will win hands down. So, I am sorry but PKR will surely lose as a result. It’s simple, deductive logic.

And Najib’s statement got even sillier: “This is the first consideration because Hulu Selangor is a BN constituency. We temporarily loaned it to PKR (Parti Keadilan Rakyat). The time has come to end the loan and return it to the BN”. As I finished reading this sentence, I fell off my chair because I was laughing so loud. Come to think of it – I have been falling off chairs pretty frequently these days ever since Najib and Muhyiddin came to power! If you ask me, this whole BN thing is now a big joke!

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Gift of Senatorship?

This morning, I received the good news that I have secured the last and tenth speaking slot – this time, CIMA Toastmasters Club (thanks to Richard Yeow). That’s the thing about Toastmasters everywhere – they are surpassingly supportive!

I am also trying to wrangle some time to do some quick preparation for my next two speeches, especially since they are only about fourteen hours apart. It’s going to be rush, rush, rush for me today.

On Wednesday, nearly 20 MIC branches in Selangor threatened to boycott the by-election if Palanivel – who is poised to be MIC’s next president – was not selected.

Now that the whole country knows he has been dropped like a hot potato, I wonder what the members from the dissenting MIC branches will do? They can either shut up and let their limp tails hang between their legs or they can still protest loudly and tear their MIC membership cards. From what I can see, MIC, and even when it concerns MCA, Gerakan, PPP and all the other BN-affiliated mosquito parties – if confronted with a fait accompli – they will surely go with the first option!

And I picked up the news this morning from The Malaysian Insider that MIC deputy president G Palanivel has been offered a senatorship and a possible appointment as a deputy minister by BN, in return for giving up his candidacy in the Hulu Selangor by-election. Wah, so easy to beli (buy) him!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Nelson Mandela's Speech


I made a return visit to MIA Toastmasters Club this evening – in order to do my speech project # 5: The Oratorical Speech (again from the same advanced manual). I had spent close to 40 minutes to find a speech that is about 8-minutes long and one that allows me to demonstrate my oratory skills. Finally, I located an excellent speech which was Nelson Mandela’s inaugural address that he made on May 10, 1994 when he became President of South Africa. I am grateful to ACS CL Johnny Yong for arranging to “import” a very experienced Toastmaster to do my speech evaluation – he is none other than YC Yap from the Ukay Toastmasters Club. ACG Yap provided me with balanced feedback – he complimented me on these areas: my excellent enunciation, clarity of voice, ability to mimic oratory skills just like him (i.e. Mandela), and slow and steady pacing of speech. On the other hand, I could have cushioned my voice (Yap was right – Mandela’s voice would be softer and gentler), I could pause longer to engage the audience more, and I could move my hands to give a “hand gesture of appreciation” – as Yap put it – to acknowledge my very distinguished audience (i.e. the world leaders who made the pilgrimage to South Africa).

Given the limited number of Toastmasters present today, I also took on the role of an evaluator for Johnny who was doing his second round of CC speeches – Speech # 6: Vocal Variety. The title of his speech? “Staff Retention Strategy”. On top of that, I was invited to take part in the Table Topics session, and I emerged the Best TT Speaker.

So, my third speech is done, with 7 more speeches to go!

It is noteworthy to mention that MIC’s choice of candidate for the Hulu Selangor by-election, G Palanivel – who had served as a four-term MP there – has been sidelined in favor of another MIC candidate, the party’s information chief P Kamalanathan. Muhyiddin was reported to have said that this decision was made in line with the prime minister's slogan of "People First, Performance Now" (Webpage
http://www.mmail.com.my/content/33570-kamalanathan-bn-candidate-hulu-selangor). In simple language, it means that Palanivel had not performed! It is plainly a slap in the face for Samy Vellu and MIC – but then again, they so easily forget that it is UMNO that calls the shots now! Poor MIC – ignored and spurned! As the Malays will say, MIC "tidak sedar diri"!

Container for a Classroom

On this last day of our HELP for Haiti donation drive, we collected RM45, thus giving us a grand total of RM8,100. The last and final thing that we are going to do is to inform our HELP management because they have promised to top up. My personal wish is that we can boost our total collection so far to surpass the RM10k figure.


I greeted yesterday’s news with disbelief! According to the Star (April 14, 2010, p M2), it seems that there is a school in the city of Kuala Lumpur where 600 students are studying in six 40-foot long containers, which serve as their classrooms. It’s been four long years but the pupils at Hidayatul Mustaqimah primary school in Jinjang Utara are forced to study inside the hot stuffy containers – filled with 30 to 35 children at one time – after a landslide damaged their original building in April 2006. This school has two sessions a day, morning and afternoon. And I bet you this is not the only school that is either abandoned, dilapidated or neglected. Doesn’t anybody care at all? If Malaysians continue to trust BN, this state of affairs will surely flourish!

And this morning, I devoured Praba Ganesan’s article “Upsizing our schools” featured in The Malaysian Insider today, which prominantly highlighted the maligned state of education in the country. Let me reproduce his first three lines: “Malaysia underperforms in basic education. In mapping out and distributing resource, sustaining workable control protocols from Putrajaya, creating effective management teams to run the schools and rebuilding syllabus which now lack sync with ability-leveraging. The country’s long-term competitiveness is at stake, thanks to this poor show”. Like all right-thinking Malaysians, we can attribute this malaise to the politicization of Malaysian education. Need I say more?

Funny Lah!

Arsenal screwed up big-time when they lost 1-2 to their north London rivals, Tottenham. As Arsene Wenger said “Arsenal can forget the Premier League title”!

And north of the border, Celtic recovered from their embarrassing Scottish Cup semifinal defeat to lowly Ross County, by beating Motherwell 2-1. In fact, the latter through Mark Reynolds fired his team ahead in the 48th minute with a close-range strike. Fortunately, Joss Thompson pulled Celtic level two minutes later. And again, the defender popped up with just over ten minutes remaining to head Celtic in front. Not that it can help us in any way – we are merely denying Rangers a title party until Sunday at the earliest.

Remember I mentioned about the D’Utama Advanced Toastmasters Club meeting that I attended exactly one week ago? Well, Lay Kun (VP Public Relations) video-taped the role-play and posted it on YouTube. As you can see, the role-play had everyone in stitches. The video clip comes in two parts – so, enjoy!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Songkran

On the penultimate day, we collected RM5 for the HELP for Haiti Fund, and this brings the grand total of monies collected since February 10, 2010 to RM8,055.

I have also received confirmations from another two Toastmasters Clubs to do my ACG speeches – that brings the total to nine. Just one more club to say “aye” and I am done with my ACG completion plan!

This evening, I was at the Subang Toastmasters Club (thanks to David Ann) where I did my speech # 2: Interpreting Poetry from the same advanced manual. My speech was titled “Lalla Rookh”, an 1817 poem by Thomas Moore (left). My evaluator was David himself – and overall I acquitted myself rather well. He made a good suggestion though, and that is I should make “arrangement for a bar stool (and) music stand for (an) outstanding presentation". Anyway, two speeches done and 8 more to go!

I read in Star today that Thailand’s Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya had accused ousted prime minister Thaksin of stoking Saturday’s violent clashes, and even said he was financing the Red Shirts “to the tune of about US$3 million (RM9.68 million) per day” (p W36). This scoundrel is indeed extremely wealthy, so what is US$3 million a day if he can be crowned Prime Minister again?

But the bigger worry is the fact that victims of Saturday’s bloodshed tell of an armed ‘third force’ who sprayed (live) bullets at security forces as well as the Red Shirts (Star, April 14, 2010, p N10). All the more reason for all parties to quickly find an amenable political solution, right?.



And with Thais celebrating the Songkran water festival – which marks their traditional new year – at least we observe an easing of tension and a respite from hostility. Instead, we witness everybody, even the Red Shirts splashing water at each other and dueling with water pistols throughout the day. They should do this every day!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Green Goblin

Today, I started my speech marathon, attempting to finish my ACG speeches in 10 days – well, that’s the plan anyway! At the Taman Indrahana Toastmasters Club meeting, I did project speech # 3: The Monodrama from the advanced manual “Interpretive Reading”. After nearly four months of “inactivity” – except for the contest and Table Topics speeches – I was very anxious and apprehensive about resuming my speechmaking, but I did it anyway.


My speech title was “The Invitation” – where I assumed the character of the Green Goblin and I was leering and mocking the “fallen” Spiderman in one of the episodes from Spiderman The Movie. DTM Dominic Joseph was my evaluator and he thought that I was going to do something Shakespearian but instead I floored him because I did this ‘superhero’ scene. Certainly he believed that I had achieved all the stated objectives but he made a request that I don’t hold back – he said I should be a “show-off”. He said he hoped I would do project speech # 4: The Play (from the same manual) at the club, so that members can learn. Methinks, I am overrated!

The important thing is that I finished the first speech, with nine more to go!

In Bangkok, the toll rose to 21 dead and 858 injured – at least according to Bangkok’s Erawan Centre yesterday (Webpage http://www.nationmultimedia.com/home/2010/04/12/national/Toll-rises-to-21-dead-858-injured-30127044.html).

And today, it was reported that former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra made a phone-in to address the Red Shirts who seized control of Bangkok’s Rajprasong commercial area and said he was proud of what they have done. If the kingdom allows itself to succumb to mob rule, then the country is really going to the dogs! Imagine Thaksin even said that the red-shirt people had it "for Thailand's future"! Wow, here is a good example of how a delusionary mind thinks!

Quotable Quote

Today’s The Sun carried the report that Malaysians have to date contributed more than RM1.2 million to the UNICEF to help nearly 1.5 million children who were directly affected by the January 12 earthquake that devastated Haiti (p 8). This is a lot of help from a country that is 17,381.4 kilometers (10,800.3 miles) away. And this amount does not yet include our contribution and presumably others as well.

In spite of Nazri's outburst, the (Malaysian) government will guarantee Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand’s safety should she continue to testify in the Teoh Beng Hock inquest, both Hishammuddin Hussein, the Home Minister and Abdul Gani Patail, Attorney-General reiterated yesterday (Webpage
http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/59604-hisham-gani-guarantee-pornthips-safety-here). Now, that is certainly very reassuring to hear. Let’s hope Dr. Pornthip will attend the April 20 hearing.

When I first read the interview Rosmah Mansur (she’s the wife of Najib Razak, our Prime Minister, in case there are readers who plead ignorance) gave to the press sometime back – I ignored it. I mean, she has been courting the press a lot, so why should I glorify her further? But I came across this hard-to-ignore quotable quote on
http://thedandelions.wordpress.com/, and it made me squeal in pretentious glee! It’s pretty uncommon (okay, this is strictly my personal opinion) to find women who are husband-fearing! And I am not counting the minority of women who are periodically abused by brutish beasts masquerading as husbands. But here we have Rosmah candidly admitting that “if he stamps his feet, I will shudder” – describing her Najib, and in the process, portraying herself to be er… well… mousy! Fact or fiction?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dr. Pornthip Withdraws

I am finalizing arrangements for my Advanced Communicator Gold-qualifying speeches that will commence tomorrow. So far, 6 Toastmasters Clubs have confirmed they would give me speaking slots. I must give it my all in order to be ready for this speech marathon that is expected to last just 10 days. On top of that, I am also re-writing my speech for the impending Division W contest. I just love this sort of challenge, don't I? It is either I can do it or I cannot. Unless I try, I will not find out how far I can push myself, right?

Thai pathologist Dr. Pornthip Rojanasunand's reported pull-out from testifying in the Teoh Beng Hock inquest next week due to political interference has raised fears among the Teoh family and the DAP that the case is being tampered with at the highest level. The Selangor government has confirmed the Thai pathologist is not returning when the inquest resumes on April 20 but they want the coroner to agree to testimony via video-conferencing.

Dr Pornthip had allegedly claimed that she was forced to do so because of “political pressure” from Putrajaya that could affect her work in southern Thailand. However Mohamed Nazri, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department believes that Dr Pornthip is lying because she cannot defend her testimonial in the inquest (Webapge http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/59558-nazri-asks-who-is-stopping-dr-pornthip, posted today).

This inquest is proving to be very challenging for those who are trying to get to the bottom of Teoh’s death.

Penises and Testicles

I received this email telling me about this Beijing restaurant in Dongsishitiao Street that serves the most exotic of cuisines. The Guolizhuang menu is a broad introduction to the medicinal benefits of eating animal penises and testicles. Supposedly there are more than 30 different penises on its menu. The platters have names like "The Essence of the Golden Buddha", "Phoenix Rising", "Jasmine Flowers with 1,000 Layers" and "Look for the Treasure Sand". Are these ornate and embellished names meant to prevent guests from prematurely running off? After all, the "jasmine flowers" are made of thinly-sliced donkey penis, and the "treasure in the desert" is actually sheep gonads on a bed of curry!


Ox penises help "manliness". They're cut along the side and shaped into little stars.


The yak penis is served with a “dragon”, although I am not sure what the significance is.


'Henry's whip' is the house specialty at this restaurant. It's a sheep's penis on a skewer covered in mayonnaise and sweet cheese.


And there’s also a platter of ox and dog penises. The consistency and taste remind one of overly bitter rings of calamari, at least that's how I am told diners described them.



The penises are often dipped in soy or hot sauce. For women, eating penises is good for the skin, apparently. Well, ladies, are you game?



Donkey penis served on a bed of lettuce: For Chinese guests, eating the sexual organs is not a test of courage, but rather a treatment for the libido.


So the next time you are in Beijing, do check this place out! Or aren't you concerned at all about your male potency?

Liverpool and Fulham produced a scoreless draw. The Reds dominated possession but they failed to break down resolute Fulham. What more is there to say? I am just numbed.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Black Saturday in Bangkok





I guess I spoke too soon. Yesterday, the streets of Bangkok resembled a war zone as government troops fired rubber bullets and tear gas at thousands of Red Shirts who responded by hurling petrol bombs in the most serious clashes yet of a month-long protest. These clashes were violent and they were deadly. Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanawisit Sunday afternoon totaled the death toll to 20. He said five troops were killed and the rest were civilians. He said the injuries toll rose to 842 – 569 civilians, 265 troops and 8 policemen – as reported by Thailand’s The Nation.
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Hopefully, sanity will prevail and calm will return. The option of continuing violence is too frightening to contemplate. The Red Shirts should desist from being manipulated by fugitive Thaksin. Sorry, Thaksin is not exactly a fugitive – some countries are sheltering and protecting him.

In the Scottish Cup semi-finals yesterday, second-tier Ross County (a team from the Scottish Highlands who has never contested the semi-finals before) stunned Celtic with a shock 2-0 win. What a Celtic let-down!