Sunday, October 31, 2010

Forget the Chinese and Indians

This YouTube video clip reveals the real UMNO! Johari Abdul Ghani of Titiwangsa UMNO puts across his message very bluntly and clearly: UMNO doesn’t need Chinese and Indian votes!



If there are Chinese and Indian voters out there still intending to vote BN in the next general election – it just goes to show that you are still trapped in cloud-cuckoo-land! Quickly fix your brains before it is too late!


Celtic kept their first clean sheet in six matches with a comfortable 3-0 win against St Johnstone. Niall McGinn fired in with just 69 seconds played after Saints keeper Graeme Smith parried a long-range shot. Then Emilio Izaguirre capitalized on a slack defensive pass-back by Saints Steven Milne that saw the ball gliding into the St Johnstone penalty area before the former slotted past Smith (41). And finally, the third and last goal came when McGinn swung a leg at a loose ball and it bobbled past the goalie and into the back of the St Johnstone net (89).

Yay! We are just within a point of Rangers at the top of the table, after the Ibrox side drew with Inverness Caledonian Thistle in a later kick-off.

No Hike in Tolls

If you can recall Najib’s 2011 Budget, we were told that there will be no hike in tolls for PLUS highways for the next 5 years. Actually, Malaysians should not be so happy about it – lest others think that we are not only gullible but also imbecilic. Well, I read somewhere that the PLUS folks have revealed that the five year postponement of toll hikes simply means that the Government has to pay PLUS RM5.0 billion compensation. And plus the RM2.5 billion unpaid compensation still owing to PLUS by the Government, totaling RM7.5 billion of taxpayers’ funds that PLUS benefits from an over-generous government that you and I know is plainly moronic. Jadi apa beza sangat? So what’s the difference?

On Thursday, Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua had pointed that the concession agreement with PLUS allowed the operator to raise toll rates by 10 per cent every three years. Failing which, the agreement, which expires in 2038, states that the government would have to compensate the firm. Last year, Pua had also pointed out that government compensation to PLUS was RM850 million! (The Malaysian Insider, posted October 15, 2010). Wow, that IS a HUGE amount of money!


I can see the pure relief on Arsene Wenger's face when his team finally managed to score a solitary goal to seal Arsenal's win against West Ham. The Gunners nearly had to settle for a draw as Hammers goalie, Robert Green pulled off a series of brilliant stops to thwart Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott, while Samir Nasri rattled the crossbar and Walcott saw a shot come back off the post. But Arsenal persisted and they eventually broke West Ham's resilience when Alex Song met Gael Clichy's floated cross with a diving header (88).

Torn Between Toastmasters & SUN-U

On Friday, I went to The Legend, KL for the Toastmasters International – District 51: 18th Semi Annual Convention – having arrived just in time for the District Council meeting. At least, I was glad that punctuality was adhered to, and so the meeting actually commenced at 2:00 PM on the dot. To be sure, I participated actively in the proceedings. I stood up no less than 5 times to express my views on some specific matters discussed. I certainly don’t believe in being passive.








But that was my only “convention activity” because I had to excuse myself from the Welcome Night Dinner. Instead, I went to another dinner – the Sun-U Staff Party at the Sunway Pyramid Convention Center. Between Toastmasters and my employer – obviously, I will choose the latter! The theme was “Jungle Rumble”, and yes, I had a great time! And to make it materially worthwhile for me, I even won two RM50 Gift Vouchers from Harvey Norman in Lucky Draw 4!

Yesterday, the convention program in Day 2 was mainly filled with plenary sessions. The only interesting ones involved K Loghandran (above left) and Paisal Sae Lor (above right), two experienced Toastmasters – the rest were just pedestrian, plodding and platitudinous. Personally, I was disappointed. To me, it is a Toastmasters convention – therefore, plenary speakers should focus on topics related to Toastmastering, either in the areas of public speaking and/or leadership. And if we have in-house talents, why should we invite outsiders? What's more, the opening ceremony was graced by Koh Tsu Koon and his presence speared my own political sensibilities because in the government today, he is a real jackass of a “minister” whom I cannot respect! Sure, I could understand if he graced the Pan-SEA Convention way back in May 1996 – then, he was the Chief Minister of Penang after all.

Again, I did not attend the Gala Nite because I had another dinner, this time at Sunway University College itself – an event organized by the School of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Management, where I partook Korean and Japanese cuisine in a fine dining setting. It was a 5-course meal, deliciously described as Five Layers of Sinfulness! And I must confess, I enjoyed it very much!

Today, the last day of the Toastmasters convention saw the finals of the Humorous speech and Evaluation competitions. The champion for the former was Ooi Ing Chyuan and for the latter, the winner was Muthukumaran. Personally, I would vote for Bernard Louis but regrettably he came in second place. And the organizers use Stephen Fernando as their test speaker – which made it very challenging for those who know him personally! But it is good to remember that there is no perfect speech – and I am sure even Stephen will acknowledge this.

After having been to Miri and now Kuala Lumpur, I have yet to find a Toastmasters Convention that meets my expectations. Hopefully, Penang can deliver in April 2011.

Oh yes, special thanks to Mike Cheang and Suresh for providing transport on Friday, Arun on Saturday and Mike again on Sunday!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Malaysians Cannot Spell

Today is the twelfth day I am without a car! My disabled Satria Neo is still in the workshop. I feel like I have been mothballed. Perhaps in future, I should consider another recourse when my car gets smashed?
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Remember my story about the leaking Malaysia Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo that I posted on September 24, 2010? Well, here’s another one…

In Parliament this morning, Rasah MP Loke Siew Fook presented to reporters a brochure whose cover bore the official emblem of “Malaysia, Truly Asia” and the last page had Tourism Malaysia’s web address. The brochure was distributed to all visitors to the Malaysia Pavilion. Yup, the same one in Shanghai.

According to The Malay Mail (October 28, 2010, p 4), Loke was complaining loudly about the way the Tourism people did things which got his goat. Y’see, the brochure contained many spelling errors! Among the misspelled words in the brochure include: “nulticultural” (multicultural), “decelopment” (development), “visitous” (visitors), “locationgs” (locations).

“To know more about Malaysia, we ‘incite’ you to step into the Malaysia Pavilion, which gives fascinating glimpses of the country’s attractions,” read one sentence, using “incite” instead of “invite”.

Loke asked, “Why didn’t any of the Tourism Ministry officials proofread this?” Duh! Does he expect a response? Surely not!

This DAP fella doth protest too much! Mistakes do happen, right? Aiyah, to err is human, to err over and over is Malaysian! Still, this brochure contained at least eleven instances of wrongful spelling.

But seriously though, Loke was right when he said the brochure was an embarrassment and gave Malaysia a bad impression. Already, we cannot speak proper English, now we cannot even spell correctly! And we gripe and grumble and grouch why we Malaysians are always misunderstood.

Where are you, Ng Yen Yen? Would you care to explain this faux pas?

UMNO Wants Proof

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah had said a victory in the Galas by-election is needed to prove UMNO’s relevance to the Malay community. And he acknowledged the fact that UMNO needs the support of the Malays because it is a Malay party. If I am reading between the lines, I interpret this statement as UMNO giving up on the non-Malay vote. But then, the Malays only constitute 61.63 % of the total electorate, and so the non-Malay vote will be decisive. If I read the mainstream news, BN will win Galas hands-down. I am not so sure. I still think PAS will win. And if they do, it will be because of the Chinese vote. And in Batu Sapi, both BN and SAPP square each other in a showdown that is also going to be very interesting. Yet, my bet is for PR to sneak in by the side door because I expect a Mexican standoff between the other two parties. Of course, if I take to heart the stuff in the papers and/or the blogs – PKR doesn’t stand even an iota of chance. Still, no one will know who is going to win until the voters cast their ballots.

Celtic fired three goals inside 13 minutes before surviving a St Johnstone comeback to win 3-2 in a pulsating Co-operative Insurance Cup tie. Anthony Stokes scored two (8, 13) and Niall McGinn scored one (12) for Celtic.

Arsenal bombarded the Magpies’ goalmouth four times to help them into the Carling Cup last eight. The first goal came from an attempted nodded clearance from Newcastle’s Ryan Taylor that hit his own keeper, Tim Krul before going into the net (45+2). Then Theo Walcott raced through and dinked in a second (53), followed by Nick Bendtner when he curled in a shot (83), and finally, Walcott again raced clear and sidefooted past Krul for his second goal in this match and his sixth goal of the season (88).

Dying Pays

This year, I am told HICT will not celebrate Halloween – what a disappointment! Yet, at Sunway University College – we have two Halloween events here! Things have indeed changed at HELP International College of Technology…

Why am I not surprised? The Auditor-General has criticized the abuse of the first economic stimulus package (ESP) funds, citing as example Mindef’s (Ministry of Defense) extravagance – RM300,000 spent on luxury items (Star, October 27, 2010, p N20). The upgrading of the VVIP (i.e. Very, Very Important Person) room at the Langkawi Naval Headquarters Region 3 (Mawilla 3) is making me red-faced because they saw the need to buy a set of chandeliers valued at RM10,000, home theater set at RM12,000, wallpaper at RM95,880, sofa set at RM13,000 and other indulgences. And in this same news report, the Defense Ministry, in reply, said the purchase of these items was in line with the stimulus package’s aim of upgrading equipment for the military. Can you believe this reply? How I wish I could line up these errant officials and get them to kneel down so that they can receive a bullet each in their heads. Real numbskulls, aren’t they?

And that’s not all! Other abuses and wastages of the ESP found in the said report include RM459,460 for decorative outdoor lighting for the Lumut Naval Base and RM144,118 to renovate an existing canteen that was in good condition with new White Horse tiles, plaster ceilings and cornices. And to think that the Defense Ministry was allocated RM250 million from the ESP for the purpose of restoring and maintaining military camps and quarters nationwide – but they saw fit to spend taxpayers’ money on superfluous knickknacks instead.

From the same newspaper (p W42), it was also reported that the King of Pop is 2010’s top-earning dead celebrity. To think that when MJ died on June 25 last year, he left behind a debt of $500 million (RM1.5 billion) – and this not only sparked a massive outpouring of grief around the world, but multitudes of fans opened their wallets and purses to let his estate earn $90 million (RM278 million) last year and ballooning to $275 million (RM851 million) this year. Yes, thanks to a lucrative catalog, hit film (This Is It concert movie) and album sales, MJ raked in more than the combined total of the other 12 celebrities on the list, according to Forbes magazine that is. This makes the prospect of dying so enticing and inviting, doesn’t it? Can somebody end my moneyless existence? Wait a second! I am not going to benefit, will I? Sigh. I will carry-on this inconsequential existence and I will continue blogging, sharing with my readers the vacant futility of my trifling life!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Najib's Manipulation

Karim Raslan’s "Ceritalah” column in the Star yesterday, titled "Malays now have a choice" was illuminating in that he hints on Najib’s successful manipulation of the Malaysian political landscape. There was the well-choreographed UMNO general assembly, which seemingly boosted the party’s prospects. And his emphasis on strategy rather than on reforms to build a confidence-boosting impetus among BN loyalists is interesting. This momentum started with MIC’s Samy Vellu’s long-awaited decision to retire in January. Then we witnessed MCA’s showcase of unity at their own general assembly this month. This was followed up with the unveiling of the 2011 Budget which while many would disagree, BN apologists would argue that it created a feel-good factor. Karim’s explanations were really spot-on. “On the one hand, the big-spending package guarantees the loyalty of UMNO’s entrepreneur base that requires regular government contracts. On the other, the Budget’s expansionary approach also promises cash handouts to other UMNO-friendly constituencies such as the civil service. The icing on the cake are the bold, Mahathir-era type initiatives such as the much criticized Warisan Merdeka… the UMNO faithful are clearly enthralled” (p N50). Down the line, with the two by-elections, Batu Sapi in Sabah and Galas in Kelantan where BN is poised to win handsomely – all of the above will come together to set BN’s electoral machinery into overdrive. Didn’t Najib warn that the general election is going to be soon?

Still, Karim cautions by saying that the upbeat mood is underscored by uncertainty. In other words, will everything fall into place as anticipated? Is Sarawak, BN’s safe deposit? Will the Malays rally behind a reinvigorated UMNO? Or given that Malays now have other choices – PAS and PKR – they can now break free from the shackles of the once dominant parti kerajaan (i.e. government party). As Karim said: “If anything, the Malay community – the consumers of politics – has never had so much political power or choice.” The pertinent question is whether the Malays will now freely exercise that choice.

But Karim’s real message is not just about the local politics. He concludes that “while UMNO’s deft strategies may help it retain power, they cannot replace reform in the long-run”. This is because the country is caught in a fast-moving vortex of irreversible change. And so, “if UMNO wishes to triumph, it must go beyond mere political campaigning”. And that “the actual struggle is more about positioning both the Malay community and Malaysia in the new global order and securing a better future for all of us”.

But so far, Najib is focusing only on the national agenda. The Malays are perched high, right at the top of the food chain – but without a vision, a stout heart, a competitive spirit and a pair of steady feet, how long can the Malays stay up there?

Morbid Speeches

Last evening’s Taman Indrahana Toastmasters meeting was going to feature three speakers – and I had decided not to speak – so when I was preparing the agenda the day before, I purposely excluded myself. That would have been a refreshing change because my fellow Indrahanians might have found it tiresome to listen to me speak almost every fortnightly. But alas, one speaker made a last-minute withdrawal yesterday and I was again obliged to come forth and deliver a speech from the CC Manual – this time, speech # 6: Vocal Variety, a grim and mournful narrative titled “Mama!” It was really off the cuff and off the hip, unplanned and unrehearsed, impromptu and extemporaneous. I think my last few speeches have been somewhat melodramatic, even yesterday’s speech was emotive and poignant! I am becoming soppy! Help! I am transforming into a metrosexual! Urgh-gh-gh-gh!

It kinda freaked me out when Durai served us his CC speech # 4 when he also spoke about death. How morbid! Fortunately, Thian Seng, as the third and last speaker lightened up the atmosphere with his advanced speech from the Humorously Speaking manual, speech # 3: Keep Them Laughing. Phew! Although it wasn't the hysterically hilarious type of speech, it did put a smile on everybody's faces! He was talking about the members' trip to FRIM on Saturday.

Anyway, this evening saw me winning two ribbons for being the Best Table Topics Speaker and the Best Project Speaker. A good meeting as usual.

Also yesterday, in Parliament, the debate on Budget 2011 became heated when Batu Gajah MP Fong Po Kuan claimed that Najib’s speech at the UMNO General Assembly had frightened her. She was referring to Najib’s call on UMNO members to defend Putrajaya, the seat of government, at all costs. She even read out an excerpt of the speech, and said the Prime Minister should be there to explain his utterances.

Sri Gading MP Mohamad Aziz tried many times to interject Fong even as she refused to give way. The UMNO fella persisted, saying: “I wish to clarify to you... all those were proverbial phrases meant to lift the spirit. You (Fong) don’t understand Malay proverbs... No need for explanation on the speech.” Whatever he may say, the fact remains that the speech was provocative. Whether we take it to mean literally or figuratively, Najib must know that every Malaysian will interpret it in his or her own way, so he cannot blame the citizenry if they were bemused. Of course, many of us were alarmed at the fiery words and phrases – I was too! Still Mohamad insisted that “Our Prime Minister is a responsible man” and yes, I laughed like a drain.

I read in Singapore’s Straits Times yesterday that BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley had accused politicians and the media on Monday of being too quick on the trigger to pin all the blame on his company for the Gulf of Mexico spill. And that was his first major public speech since taking the top job.

“We were certainly not perfect in our response, but we have tried to do the right thing,” Dudley had said. Before assuming office on October 1, he was in charge of BP's spill response efforts in the Gulf. And he even went so far as to claim that the US needs a company with BP's resources to meet its vast energy needs. Okay, we hear you loud and clear, Dudley. He is blunt and direct and why not? He is an American after all!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Donald Trump's Ego

I am sure many of you did follow the goings-on of the UMNO General Assembly 2010. One of the weirdest exhortations made by Najib Razak was: “Come what may, Putrajaya must be defended”. He had called upon UMNO members to defend the administrative capital from the clutches of the Opposition in the next general election, even if it meant laying down their lives! UMNO Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin too parroted the same strident line. He had committed UMNO Youth to guard the UMNO power base by pledging to give their all to defend Putrajaya. I don’t even understand why they said what they said!

Maybe, they believe that they’re the only ones who have the sole right to govern this country. And so they’re staking their claim of ownership of Putrajaya and when they feel threatened, they will barricade themselves and defend this 4931 hectares of real estate. There’s no need to fight lah. If these UMNO goons are so obsessed with Putrajaya – why don’t we let them keep Putrajaya and leave the rest of the country to us?

A New Zealand fundraising consortium was reported on Saturday to have run foul of tycoon Donald Trump for using the card-playing term “Trumpcard”. The consortium’s Trumpcard, with a court jester logo, is a loyalty card users can swipe at participating businesses in the southern NZ city of Invercargill, with each swipe bringing benefits to selected charities.

But Trump viewed the use of the word ‘trump” as a serious matter and authorized his lawyer “to take appropriate actions to prevent any continued wrongdoing”, the Southland Times reported. Yet another story of another windbag with a bloated ego.

The fundraising consortium received a letter from the Trump Corporation claiming the “knowing and unauthorized use of the ‘Trump’ in the promotion of your business is an obvious attempt to trade on Mr. Trump’s well-established reputation”. WTF! Part-owner Neil Selman replied that their reference was to card-playing trumps, “a positive meaning dating back to 1529 that I’m sure most people would have some knowledge of long before Mr. Trump gained profile”. Notwithstanding this explanation, Trump's lawyers have warned they would be monitoring use of the consortium's trademark.

One day when I become rich and famous, I too will send a lawyer’s letter to anybody who has the gall to associate my well-recognized name with their products, services and what-have-you – those that I am sure to target include Victoria’s Secret, Victorinox, Victoria Station, Victor Racquets, Victoria Institution, Victoria University and even the Australian state of Victoria. Hey! Stop the mass-exploitation of my name! I promise you I'll get you one day!

Monday, October 25, 2010

More Iraqi Civilian Deaths

This by-election is being called following the death of PAS’s Che Hashim Sulaima from cancer on September 27. Pakatan Rakyat component party PAS had just selected their acting chief for the area, Dr Zulkefli Mohamad, to fly their colors. And on the BN side, Muhyiddin announced yesterday that UMNO Gua Musang secretary Abdul Aziz Yusof will be the BN representative for the November 4 Galas by-election,

Nomination was slated for October 26. Both nomination and voting days are the same as for the Batu Sapi by-election in Sabah. The popular talk is that BN will win both by-elections.

WikiLeaks said on Saturday the release of nearly 400,000 classified US files on the Iraq war showed 15,000 more Iraqi civilians died than previously thought. Uploaded on the WikiLeaks’ website, the files detailed gruesome cases of prisoner abuse by Iraqi forces that the US military knew about but did not seem to investigate.

In Baghdad, Iraqi officials responded to WikiLeaks’ move by pledging to probe any allegations that police or soldiers had committed crimes and saying any culprits would be prosecuted.

It is heartening to note that at least Iraqi authorities promised action. This sure beats the US who seems more interested to keep everything under wraps.

The whistle-blowing website’s founder, Julian Assange, who was furiously criticized by the Pentagon for publishing the secret reports, said the release should throw light on what had happened in Iraq, thwarting an official “attack on the truth”.

As Iraq Body Count co-founder John Sloboda said, “Adding in the combatant deaths reported in these logs... we are now able to say that more than 150,000 people have been killed in total since 2003, of which about 80 per cent were civilians”.

These revelations only reinforce the horrors of war and that nothing can ever justify innocent deaths that have been needlessly unnecessary.

Linda Tsen, PBS Candidate

On Sunday, BN announced their candidate, Linda Tsen Thau Lin, the 54-year-old widow of the late Edmund Chong Ket Wah. As The Malaysian Insider opined, Tsen’s candidacy is a coup for BN because of the popularity of her late husband, whose death two weeks ago from a road accident triggered this by-election. Certainly, her campaign to replace her husband will rely on the emotional attachment many in the constituency had for Chong, a popular MP with strong ties within the community. Why, even her strongest rival, SAPP’s Yong Teck Lee is close to her family.

It is true that SAPP has no choice but to contest in the Batu Sapi by-election. It is a Sabah-based party after all – win or lose, they have to try. Still, it is better for them to join with Pakatan so that votes are not split among the opposition. Regrettably, no agreement could be reached between the two parties.


Arsenal decisively whipped title rivals Manchester City 3-0 – this result sees Arsene Wenger's men leapfrog West Brom, Tottenham, City and Manchester United into second place, five points adrift of EPL leaders Chelsea. Goals from Samir Nasri (20), Alex Song (66) and Nicklas Bendtner (88) sealed victory for the Gunners.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Makeshift School

On Friday, the Star newspaper (p N33) reported that for more than eight years, pupils of SJK(T) Ladang Batu Kawan have been studying in the houses of four estate clerks and two metal cabins. These makeshift classrooms serve as a “school” for 125 students. And just a week earlier, they had a visitor – in the form of a 1.5 meter-long snake. B Matharasi, a homemaker who has five of her children studying there, thought it was a cobra.

This school enjoys fully-aided status since September 2008 and yet conditions remain lamentably deplorable.

As Anwar Ibrahim had pointed out, the RM5 billion proposed for the Warisan Merdeka project could go for the construction of at least 1,667 more schools, at a cost of RM3 million each (Webpage http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/anwar-says-big-projects-sign-of-bns-imminent-fall1/). Which priority is more important? Somebody's ego or young Malaysians' needs?

Rangers moved three points clear of opponents Celtic at the top of the SPL after winning the season's first Old Firm derby – with a remarkable 3-1 score. It was Celtic who went in front when Gary Hooper slammed home (45+1), but Glenn Loovens's own goal (49) leveled matters straight after the break. Then, ex-Celtic player Kenny Miller volleyed Rangers ahead (55) and soon after, followed this up with a controversial penalty (67).

And Liverpool finally earned a win when they played against Blackburn with a 2-1 victory. Sotirios Kyrgiakos gave the Reds the lead on 48 minutes when he powered in a header from Steven Gerrard's corner. Blackburn hit back when El-Hadji Diouf's shot was deflected in by Liverpool's Jamie Carragher (50) after the latter's team-mate Paul Konchesky cleared. Fernando Torres then saved Carragher's blushes three minutes later when he side-footed in a Joe Cole cross but Liverpool stay in the EPL's bottom three.

Instant Zombie

Just to show how much MCA has descended into the stygian abyss of inglorious ignominy – even UMNO permanent chairperson Badruddin Amiruldin (who chaired the UMNO general assembly) didn’t give a shit and instead rebuked the MCA president in front of national media and all of UMNO! And just in case, Chua Soi Lek played dumb, the former admonished him in Hokkien, telling the latter off and to stop questioning Malay rights.

Badruddin scolded Chua on Friday after Negri Sembilan delegate Jalaluddin Alias slammed Chua for allegedly interfering in UMNO affairs. The MCA has amounted to zilch, zip, zero, void, nought, nothing. Can it be any clearer? Chua Soi Lek has indeed shown himself to be a political eunuch. MCA has no shame.
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And with Halloween around the corner (October 31), this zombie T-shirt seems appropriate. It has an upside-down zombie face screened on the inside – al you have to do is to pull the back of the shirt over your head and you are transformed into an instant topless zombie! This was featured in boingboing.net on October 22, 2010.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Life Sucks!

How's life?


Is this your life?
Seriously, is it?
Don’t be a slave of the daily grind!
Do something different today!
For your sake.

Live Life.

Islamic Fashion


Malaysia's PM and wife, Rosmah, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and Qatar’s PM Sheikh Hamad pose as they arrive at the Islamic Fashion Festival in Monte Carlo. Image credit: http://royalnewsblog.com/2010/08/monacos-ruler-at-fashion-festival/

The PM’s wife, Rosmah Mansor was promoting the Islamic Fashion Festival (IFF) in Monte Carlo on August 09, 2010. I must admit that I am confused. Does Islam allow the showcasing of fashion? Is there such a thing as Islamic fashion in the first place? Methinks just because the designers come from Muslim countries do not make it Islamic couture! If you view the photos below, they are decidedly different from the familiar impressions of Islamic apparel held by many:
Models take to the catwalk during the 4th edition of the Islamic Fashion Festival Charity Gala in Monte Carlo. Image credit: http://www.emirates247.com/islamic-fashion-on-monaco-s-ramps-1.277555
A model presents a creation by Indonesian designer Ghea Panggabean. Image credit: http://www.emirates247.com/islamic-fashion-on-monaco-s-ramps-1.277555
A model presents a creation by Palestinian designer Hindi Mahdi. Image credit: http://www.emirates247.com/islamic-fashion-on-monaco-s-ramps-1.277555
A model presents a creation by Cameroun designer Parfait Behen. Image credit: http://www.emirates247.com/islamic-fashion-on-monaco-s-ramps-1.277555
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Rosmah is the patron for IFF and in her speech in the Principality of Monaco, she said she was extremely delighted to note the progress and growth of the IFF since it became an event that has an important bearing on Malaysia’s emergence as an Islamic fashion hub, as well as contributing to our international standing in the world’s fashion industry.
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It would be interesting to know what PAS thinks about this Islamic event that Rosmah is so passionate about.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Poor Will Suffer

Today, Toastmasters International is exactly 86 years old. Congratulations to Toastmasters everywhere!
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The Teoh Beng Hock Inquest resumed this morning with a document examiner from the Chemistry Department testifying that he cannot be certain that the alleged suicide note was written by the deceased. So how come MACC prosecution head Abdul Razak Musa is still obsessed with this note? And why is he persisting with this assumption that it was a suicide note? Since when is a “goodbye” an indicator of suicide? This inquest has gone long enough, don’t you think?

Yesterday, UK's respected economics think-tank, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) warned that Chancellor George Osborne's £81 billion cuts package was "regressive" and insisted the cuts would hit the poorest harder than most of the better off. So, what’s new? The poor will always have to suffer from the callous brunt of crass government policies.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg showed his insensitivity when he accused the Government's critics (including the IFS) of "frightening people" with claims that they were "doing unfair things when we are not". How can it not be unfair when the poor in Britain will be the hardest hit?

Who will speak on the poor’s behalf? Who can lend a helping hand? Who really cares?

Yen Yen's Rebuttal


Wow, Ng Yen Yen got hot under the collar! The Malaysian Insider reported yesterday that the feisty Tourism Minister flayed the opposition (i.e. Tian Chua and company) for nitpicking her ministry's bloated travel bills, pointing out that her promotion strategies had successfully attracted more tourist arrivals. It seems that she whipped out her Apple iPad to show reporters statistical proof of how her travels abroad and drop in promotional expenditure had helped revitalize the country's tourism industry. In short, if she hadn’t travelled and lent a more personal touch to her tourism promotions – after all, you cannot depend on those hopeless Malaysian tourism officials – the tourists would have stopped coming to the country! Didn’t you understand what she’s claiming? She made a difference! She single-handedly ensured that the industry is alive and well! Her “promotion work abroad had attracted more than 23 million tourists last year” (Webpage http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/yen-yen-says-she-is-a-specialist-not-a-tourist/).

I think we marketers can learn much from her! Here is one gutsy lady who cuts her ministry’s promotion budget and yet, tourist arrivals had the opposite effect! The statistics rolled effortlessly off her tongue: “In 2008, we spent RM16 per tourist, in 2007, we spent RM18 and in 2006, we spent RM20”. And last year, it was only RM14 per tourist, she had purposely highlighted. I am visibly impressed, so impressed that tears are streaming down my cheeks! I thought I did but I really don’t know my marketing stuff at all. Now I must be humble; I must re-learn marketing. Ng Yen Yen is the world’s greatest marketer because she has found a way to produce superior results (i.e. increased tourist arrivals) by reducing resource usage (i.e. decreasing promotion costs). She is doing a fantastic job and by my calculations, by 2016, she doesn’t need to spend a single cent (or should it be sen?) and tourists will still keep flowing into Malaysia! She’s a marketing specialist alright! As she said “You want to talk to a specialist, you talk to me”! Of course, all we need to ensure is that we keep on footing her burgeoning travel bills!

The Europa League Group K tie between Liverpool and Napoli ended in a goalless draw. Most commentators said it was a good result because the Reds fielded youngsters and fringe players! If we are happy with a draw, perhaps we should continue to field these players – instead of Torres – so that at the very least, there won’t be humiliating defeats, just lackluster draws!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Facilitated Self-Development




I made a second visit to D’Utama Toastmasters Club and today, most of them came in costume. I must admire their glowing enthusiasm to create a mood that was appropriate to the meeting’s theme, i.e. Halloween. As is the norm for this club, members and guests filled the meeting room to the brim. I did not play any role – which was fine because it allowed me to sit back and enjoy the speeches. There were five speeches this evening but I have to be honest to admit that the best speeches were the two maiden Ice-breaker speeches from two newbies. I could sense their earnestness, their sincerity, their purposefulness. The other speakers – although certainly more experienced – were plainly disappointing. When I look back at my many Toastmasters meetings that I have attended at different Clubs – where, on many occasions, I have earned the Best Speaker ribbon or the Best Evaluator ribbon – perhaps, because there has been a dearth of quality speakers and evaluators in the first place and so I easily excel! Am I making sense here?

Really, the LG Education & Training, the Division Governors and Area Governors should assist the VP Education in particular, to organize quality meetings that will showcase at least one good speech and/or one good evaluation. This permits learning. Otherwise, in an ocean of mediocrity, Toastmasters will happily indulge in speechmaking and delivering evaluations that are fair to middling. When this happens, they cannot improve because they are not at all exposed to quality speeches and evaluations. Sure, Toastmastering is about self-development, but I believe it should be facilitated self-development.
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Combo picture shows a robot produced by the electrical engineering department of the National Taiwan University mimicking the facial expressions of a human at the Taipei International Robot Show (October 19-22, 2010). The yet-to-be-named robot, which consists of a life-sized head and torso, was designed to show basic emotions for improved interaction. Soon, we do not need to be at the mercy of humans because humans are predictably unpredictable! We can be free of their emotional leash. Isn’t that wonderful?

Like Father Like Son

International Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Mukhriz Mahathir follows his father’s footsteps by reproaching and reviling the opposition for everything and anything that is wrong in this country. In Parliament yesterday, he blamed the opposition for the loss of foreign investor confidence in Malaysia, accusing their lawmakers of badmouthing the country abroad.

Mukhriz was responding to a supplementary question from Kuala Krai MP Dr Mohd Hatta Ramli on the 81 % drop in the country’s foreign direct investment (FDI) this year. The latter had suggested to the House that the drop in FDI ultimately pointed to the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority’s (MIDA) failure to carry out their responsibilities – to which Mukhriz had contested this view.

And then Mukhriz said something strange. He said that the 81 % drop in the country’s FDI corresponded with the worldwide drop of 37 % due to the global financial crisis. How can 37% compare to 81%? It’s more than double! He’s stupid or what?

And I don’t think I will hear the last of him! After blaming the opposition, next he will turn his gunsight on the Chinese, the Indians, globalization, democracy, El Nino, Lady Gaga and what-have-you! As I’ve said, like father, like son!

According to the Information, Communication and Culture Deputy Minister Joseph Salang Gandum, in his reply to a question from Kulim Bandar Baru MP Zulkifli Noordin during Question Time in Parliament this morning, the former confirmed that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) had completed their investigation of the Hari Raya advertisement Sinari Lebaran (featured in my blog posting dated September 12, 2010) and decided to slap TV3 with the maximum RM50,000 compound under section 206(3) of the MCMC Act for humiliating and insulting Islam. Malaysians can be so overly-sensitive, it's not funny!

Cheeky AirAsia Ads

AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes loves the limelight. And if he doesn’t make the news, he’s sure to embark on something to capture media attention. He’s got an ego the size of an overripe pumpkin and he’s cocky. Anyway, this is a personal opinion.

It seems that in a recent Bangkok Post article, Fernandes had expressed his disdain over Westerners running any successful Asia-based business. “We’re Asians, not a bunch of white guys running the airlines,” Fernandes was quoted as saying (Star, October 20, 2010, p N25). It was an uncalled for remark and it is unbecoming of someone of his stature to spew a racial slur. It was pure juvenile. But I believe it was a deliberate remark designed to evoke verbal retaliation. And it did.

Singapore rival Tiger Airways, headed by British Tony Davis, was quick to express his disappointment over the Fernandes remark – who can blame him? If I would describe Fernandes as a chocolate-colored guy, he might feel the same. Or maybe not since he is so standoffish, so thick-skinned, so unfeeling. And Fernandes responded point-blank that he stood by his statement and that he “was just talking about the Westerners in Tiger Airways’ management who do not know Asia very well” (Star, October 17, 2010). Ouch! Sharp-tongued Fernandes is turning his acerbic wit on Davis again.

Besides, Fernandes is not one to shy away from confrontation and so, it wasn’t surprising when on Tuesday, AirAsia came out with a full-page ad that appeared in Singapore’s The Straits Times depicting a cartoon caricature of a tiger cub in tears and the headlining copy: “If tigers were meant to fly, they would be born with wings”. This was followed by another line “Guaranteed to fly everyday!” – this is obviously seen as a direct reference to an embarrassing episode where Tiger Airways had suffered the ignominy of 40 flight cancellations over a four-day period, leaving thousands stranded, according to Singapore’s The Straits Times (October 02, 2010).

In fact, when the flights were aborted, AirAsia quickly took out ads proclaiming “We have the stripes to fly” and again the “Guaranteed to fly everyday!” tagline – targeting at who else but Tiger Airways!

In a plainspoken interview with Channel NewsAsia (Webpage
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporebusinessnews/view/1088311/1/.html, posted October 20, 2010), AirAsia's regional head of commercial Kathleen Tan made a big deal about their ads: "We thought it's a great time to do things that are a little bit fun; a little bit wicked. It's not meant as a one-up, we're not attacking anyone, we were just being clever and witty to assert our marketing leadership". Ah-huh, as if AirAsia doesn’t suffer from delays and cancellations!

Bold and brash AirAsia has been poking cheeky fun at rivals.

Highlighting the female cabin crew on its Singapore-Kuala Lumpur route, ads read “There’s a new girl in town and she’s twice the fun at half the price”, which was seen as a dig at Singapore Airlines icon the 'Singapore Girl'.


Air Asia also pushed boundaries with outdoor ads promoting destinations in Thailand with the tagline, “Cheap enough to say Phuket I’ll go”.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Touring Minister

Meyya, DTM has requested for help: he is trying very hard to revive the Deloitte KassimChan Toastmasters Club. For almost seven months they have not had a meeting and so this evening, a demonstration meeting was held, showcasing 6 Area Champions – 3 of them delivered speeches (Emil Anthony, Hadzrin and Thiaga) and another 3 did evaluations (Lay Kun, Victor Ong and Bernard Louis). It was heartening to note that between six to ten DKC staff attended the meeting and hopefully, this interest would be translated into Toastmaster membership. I am glad I was able to help anyway. This is the 50th club that I have visited this year!

This morning I was already protesting about the increased travel costs of both Najib and Muhyiddin. And to compound my regret, just now, I read in Free Malaysia Today (Webpage
http://www.malaysia-today.net/mtcolumns/newscommentaries/35357-tourism-ministry-in-spotlight-over-exhorbitant-official-trips-, posted today) that the Tourism Minister also loves travelling very much. It was revealed that Ng Yen Yen and even her predecessor Azalina Othman spent more on official trips. And they cleverly did this by cutting the Tourism Ministry promotional budget between 2008 and 2010.

In a written reply to Batu MP Tian Chua, Ng said that in 2008, the ministry spent RM1.2 million on official trips when it was under Azalina, and in 2009, the cost ballooned to RM1.6 million and when Ng took over the portfolio in April the same year, it further increased to RM1.7 million.

While that is a 40% increase over the three years, the promotional expenditure, however, plunged by a mighty 70% in the same period. According to figures provided by the ministry, the promotional expenditure in 2008 was RM320 million for both local and international promotional activities. This was reduced to RM301 million in 2009 and dwindled massively to RM99.6 million up till July 2010.

Tian Chua said in a statement that Ng went on more official trips than Azalina. "In 2008, Azalina went on official trips six times but Ng has thus far gone abroad 15 times this year”.

Tian Chua was of course mocking Ng when he posed the question. "Is she really doing her job to promote Malaysian tourism or is she promoting international tourism?” And he was being sardonic when he said, “She should be called a 'touring' minister instead of tourism minister". Wah, like that, I also don’t mind becoming a Tourism Minister!
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Arsenal closed in on a place in the Champions League knockout phase with a crushing 5-1 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk to move clear at the top of Group H. Alex Song (19) started the avalanche of goals, followed by Samir Nasri (42), Cesc Fabregas (penalty, 60), Jack Wilshere (66) and Marouane Chamakh (69), while ex-Arsenal striker Eduardo (82) lashed a consolation for the other side. Good job, Gunners!

Malaysia Spends, UK Slashes!


Image credit: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/the-daily-cartoon-760940.html?ino=3

Image credit: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/the-daily-cartoon-760940.html?ino=17

Image credit: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/the-daily-cartoon-760940.html?ino=4

Image credit: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/the-daily-cartoon-760940.html

It is a picture of contrasts. In the UK, the government is resolute and even ruthless in the manner in which they are enforcing cuts in government spending to slash the budget deficit – e.g. £1.15 billion off spending on government consultants, advertising and travel this year (Webpage http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/osborne-details-pound62bn-spending-cuts-1981450.html, posted May 24, 2010).

Both Chancellor George Osborne and his Lib Dem deputy, David Laws are dead serious about UK politicians taking their share of the pain, and even ministers are to be granted dedicated cars in "exceptional circumstances" and expected to "walk or take public transport" most of the time (ibid).

But here in Malaysia, we are doing exactly the opposite. We just ignore the fiscal sinkhole we are in. Whatever, wherever and whenever we can spend, to be sure, we will spend! So I didn’t bat an eyelid when I read in The Sun today that the official travel expenditure of the Prime Minister and his deputy actually increased 75.2 % from 2008 to October 12 this year. Batu MP Tian Chua had asked Najib to state the number of officers who had accompanied them and the cost of the official trips taken by both Najib and Muhyiddin.

And so Minister in the PM’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz in a written reply said 1,102 officers had chaperoned Najib and Muhyiddin on the duo’s official trips, costing a total of RM21.45 million (p 6). I wonder if these included Rosmah’s frequent overseas trips as well?

UK’s The Independent has revealed that half a million public-sector jobs will be lost as a result of the draconian cuts to be unveiled today by George Osborne, in Britain's biggest spending squeeze since the 1920s.

Other public employees will be asked to work shorter hours – and take pay cuts – to save themselves from the sack. Analysts expect another 500,000 jobs to be lost in private companies that rely on public-sector contracts or grants.

Whether UK citizens agree or disagree with the fierce nature of cuts, there is no doubt that their country cannot afford to continue spending like free-wheeling Malaysia does! At least, they are not in self-denial, but we are! Even if we don’t, we still ignore the elephantine deficit that threatens to trample us! Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, last night said the country (i.e. UK) faced a "sober" decade ahead, meaning "a decade of savings, orderly budgets and equitable rebalancing". When will the Malaysian government wake up from their deep slumber to face up to our own brobdingnagian deficit?

And the three teens who had pleaded guilty to desecrating a surau on August 23 were fined RM2,000 each by the Juvenile Court yesterday. Magistrate M Mageshwary also ordered them to report-in at the welfare department monthly for two years (The Sun, October 20, 2010, p 8). They should count themselves very lucky to escape with a light sentence!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Copycat Proton

I did make my way to Bandar Sri Damansara to attend the Speecom Toastmasters meeting this evening since I had already agreed to be the General Evaluator. And I was also asked to help out by taking on another role as Evaluator for Fan Chen Keat, ACG CL who delivered an Advanced speech. By the way, this is my 49th club that I have visited this year and I am glad I went because I enjoyed the meeting. Anyway, I am grateful for Lim who brought me there and Kon Chee Min for giving me a lift back.

Proton organized a soft launch of their new Inspira model on October 14, 2010 with their group managing director Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir declaring that “The best way to launch a car… is through smart collaborations”. The collaboration was apparently with Mitsubishi Motor Corp of Japan. The only issue I have is that Proton is introducing a new car that is not a new model – so, what collaboration are we talking about? Now, when you add the adjective “smart”, I begin to wonder even more. Don’t blame me but if I correctly read the Star news report (Webpage
http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2010/10/15/business/7228385&sec=business), the Proton Inspira is a re-badged Mitsubishi Lancer GT. So yes, I suppose you can say that it is smart of Proton to just copy this model. And this version will be tentatively priced from RM79,888 to RM95,000.

But the Kinabatangan MP, Bung Moktar Radin slammed Proton for going backwards. “I don’t see any new changes in Proton,” he protested. I think he was upset because it is a knockoff – it is a Mitsubishi masquerading as an Inspira. And I can understand his distress because as proud Malaysians, I hide my head in shame to know that our national car company is nothing but a copycat. So, when he says “this is very embarrassing for the country” (The Sun, October 19, 2010, p 3), I sense the same dampening disappointment too.


Syed Zainal admitted that it would cost Proton as much as RM700 million to develop a new car from the ground up but only half the amount via collaborations. So Proton chose the easy and cheap way out.


I can also understand if Malaysians are peeved because a final version of the Inspira wasn’t even available for display and only the front end of the car was revealed to the media (Star, October 15, 2010). And knowing Proton, it won’t be an exact Mitsubishi replica, it will be just a cheap clone. It is a Proton after all.

Photo credit: http://www.mitsubishi-motors.com.my/gallery/lancer.jpg

Since I am on the subject of cars, do check out the Mitsubishi Motors website. It features the dapper Lancer 2.0 GT and it is one snazzy car. It has a bold and sporty front that accentuates its pronounced aerodynamic exterior. And it’s powered by an impressive 2.0-liter MIVEC engine with lightweight aluminium block and INVECS-III CVT. I am not a 'car' person but in simple English, I take it to mean that its engine and transmission are one of a kind. And on-the-road price (without insurance) for this model in Malaysia is RM123,980 (Webpage http://www.mitsubishi-motors.com.my/showroom-lancer-peninsular.php, accessed today). I don’t believe that the Inspira will be even remotely close to this model – but hey, a Proton, no matter how hard it tries, can never be a Mitsubishi! Well, at least not one that is still on the road!

An Expensive Palace


My car had a frisky rendezvous with another car last Friday night. And just because I slam-banged his metal rear, my car had to go into a workshop for a patch up. I will be without wheels for two weeks and this is really unfortunate. For a start, I missed the KL Advanced Toastmasters meeting yesterday and sigh, I didn’t get to do my prepared speech.
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The government has approved a further RM147 million for the new Istana Negara – Works Minister Shaziman Abu Mansor had explained in a written reply to Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng in Parliament yesterday and reported on the same day by The Malaysian Insider – this additional boost was to bear costs that were not included in the original contract which was set at RM650 million. They include costs to increase the palace’s security system, capital contribution payments to utility companies and interior decorations.

And when we tally the construction costs for access roads to the palace – the flyover from Jalan Duta will now costs RM106 million and upgrading works on Jalan Changkat Semantan remains at RM32.5 million – the total cost for the construction of the Malaysian King’s palace complex and access roads would rake up the bill to a massively whopping RM935.5 million! And to think that the initial bill that was presented to Malaysians was at a modest RM400 million!

My mood has already soured this morning. The government keeps on spending taxpayers’ money as if there is no tomorrow! I really worry for this country!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Budget Talk Again

As I examined the Budget 2011 again, I wondered aloud if Najib really listens to the rakyat! Well, if you had scrutinized his blog and Facebook page, you will read the very many comments as well as suggestions from his readers about what they had wished for in Budget 2011.

According to the Prime Minister, there were three main issues raised – employment, taxes and subsidies, and education. In Najib’s words, “employment was the most frequently discussed with some of you calling for the implementation of a minimum wage policy”. Also, he noted that “comments from the youth requested for increased tax rebates for young families or ways to provide financial assistance in managing the rising cost of living”. As for education, the feedback related to concerns with education quality and the rising cost of education.

Now that we know the contents of the budget, I don’t think anybody can deny that these requests were not entertained at all.

The minimum wage policy is still not on – being deferred again! Only security guards will benefit and Najib had announced that they would be entitled to a minimum wage of between RM500 and RM700 a month, depending on location, effective January 2011. And not forgetting that female civil servants will enjoy longer maternity leave (i.e. 90 days).

In education, a substantial allocation was made to cater for recurring operational expenditure and some new infrastructural spending, but other than this – there is nothing new in the budget that can allay the No. 1 concern of middle-class Malaysians. Education continues to suffer from political meddling and academic standards keep on declining.

The pressing issue of the escalating costs of living is not addressed. We see the ballooning costs of housing, transport, health, food, et cetera – but the government is not concerned. Take housing as one very sore point. Sure, first-time house buyers with income less than RM3,000 can now obtain a 100% loan without a down payment. This is small consolation if the repayment period is prolonged or if the house price is exorbitant. The reality is that current prices are beyond the reach of young professionals who aspire to own a house in KL. In a statement to The Malay Mail on September 29, 2010, National House Buyers Association (HBA) honorary secretary-general Chang Kim Loong said "The present wages of a middle-income household does not commensurate with the current price range of owning a house. Even the current rental yield does not give satisfactory return-on-investment" (Webpage
http://www.mmail.com.my/content/51018-curb-rising-house-prices, posted October 01, 2010).

Najib may be optimistic that the country will prosper – but I reckon Malaysians will generally be poorer. The exceptions will be the wealthy, the super-wealthy and those “privileged” people with the political affiliations to gain from the harvest of mega projects contained in the said budget.

Budget 2011 is not reflective of 1Malaysia!

Book Exchange

Najib Razak when tabling Budget 2011 in Parliament on Friday had announced a special financial assistance of RM500 for all civil servants from Grade 54 and below as well as contract officers and retirees to be paid in December. So doesn’t this confirm that the country is not doing well, that civil servants do need financial assistance because of the spiralling cost of living? Najib himself confessed that “...Personally I will want to give a bonus but as a responsible finance minister, I cannot expend more than the national revenue” (Sunday, Star, October 17, 2010, p N1).

This is hilarious because Najib can afford to spend RM5 billion on Warisan Merdeka. Even DAP’s Lim Kit Siang had accused the Prime Minister of trying to outdo Mahathir Mohamad by building a 100-storey skyscraper – higher than Mahathir’s Petronas Twin Towers with their 88 floors – rather than a high-income economy (The Malaysian Insider, posted October 17, 2010). Maybe, I too was mistaken. I had misread about the part on “high-income” economy – it is really about some interested parties achieving “high-income” status!
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My eyes were drawn to a photo in the Sunday Star yesterday, featuring the tiniest of libraries (p E7) at Marton cum Grafton in northern England. It is the familiar red phone booth converted into a book exchange – part of British Telecom’s "Adopt a Kiosk” campaign.

I found it intriguing and so I googled to find out more. And at webpage
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1232331/The-red-phone-box-Britains-smallest-library.html, posted December 01, 2009 – it was reported that residents in the Somerset village of Westbury-sub-Mendip rallied together to set up the book box after their mobile library service was cancelled. And so the parish council purchased the box, a Giles Gilbert Scott K6 design, for £1, and villagers put up wooden shelves inside and donated their own books. The phone box now houses around 100 titles from cooking books to the classics and blockbusters to children's books.


The phone box library is open every day for 24 hours and is lit at night. There is a regular check on it to see if some titles are not moving. These are then shipped on to a charity shop to keep the phone box collection fresh. A clever idea! I just pray they remain vandal-free.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Batty Yen Yen

Like all typical MCA ministers in the Malaysian cabinet, Tourism Minister Ng Yen Yen just love to not only mollycoddle Najib but also to rub him the right way. So it is not surprising to read in the New Sunday Times today that this lady is claiming that tourism will flourish with the building of this KL landmark Warisan Merdeka (p 5). How she could relate the two is astounding to say the least,

In fact, I could also recall many years ago, when Singapore’s Westin Stamford (now the Swissotel The Stamford) advertised that it was the world’s tallest hotel then – it was a distinction that was not important to most tourists – it actually turned many off.

In Marketing, we learn that not all brand differences are meaningful or worthwhile; not every difference makes a good differentiator – whether it is the Westin brand or even the Malaysia brand! So, just because Warisan Merdeka is going to be the tallest building in Malaysia – who really gives a hoot?

Ng Yen Yen is one batty lady who periodically comes up with batty ideas! Remember when she conceived that hare-brained idea to sell our uninhabited islands to rich foreigners as this could help stimulate the country’s economy and bring in more tourist dollars? The Star newspaper had reported this in their September 23, 2010 edition.

If she was serious about this – why then did the Malaysian government spend money and effort to bring Singapore to court because they wanted to hold on to a tiny island that is a mere 8560 sq meters at low tide? This island called Batu Puteh (or Pedra Branca, as Singaporeans would refer to it) has only Horsburg Lighthouse for company and nothing else. Why didn’t we just “sell” the island to Singapore and save us all the legal hassle in the first place?
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Of course, on May 23, 2008, Malaysia had to face the embarrassing truth that the International Court of Justice had ruled that Pedra Branca is actually under Singapore's sovereignty. Well, I still say we could have earned some money if we quietly told Singapore we would gladly drop the claim if we get a little compensation. Doesn’t money make the world go round? But then again, it couldn't have happened because Yen Yen came up with this barmy idea of selling Malaysian islands only this year!
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In the SPL match between Celtic and Dundee United, Gary Hooper swept home a Mark Wilson cross in 13 minutes to put Neil Lennon's side ahead. The other team equalized only when David Goodwillie's shot deflected in off Glenn Loovens (38). But Celtic was not to be denied when again, Hooper poked home a 89th-minute winner as they maintained their 100% Scottish Premier League record. Celtic had won 2-1.

Liverpool's new owners started their reign by watching the struggling Reds being convincingly beaten 0-2 by Merseyside rivals Everton. I think I am going to burn my membership card!

About-Turns

Anwar Ibrahim’s ex-aide Rahimi Osman had alleged that he had been coerced into signing two statutory declarations in 2008 in the former’s favor.

Soon after, yet another aide, Rasid Rosdi has come out to claim that he was confined at a hotel and compelled to sign a statutory declaration (also in 2008) under duress.

Isn’t it strange that suddenly, these two came out of the rotting woodwork to make public claims of intimidation? I smell a rat, don’t you? This is a well-organized disclosure – I congratulate the plotters.

These about-turns are becoming discomfortingly regular. I recalled Najib’s own about-turn. Najib had initially denied ever meeting Saiful Bukhari Azlan but later admitted they had met. A day after their meeting, Saiful lodged the police report which led to the ongoing trial against Anwar.


Arsenal came from behind to beat Birmingham 2-1 and returned second in the table. It was the latter who went ahead against the run of play when striker Nikola Zigic headed home Keith Fahey's cross (33). Fortunately, the former kept their composure and in the second half, Samir Nasri leveled from the spot after a foul on Marouane Chamakh (41). And soon after, Chamakh collected Jack Wilshere’s pass before dancing around West Brom defenders and sliding the ball hom (47) to give Arsenal an important win.