Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Surrender

Okay, I am raising my hands in surrender. I did not achieve a single 2010 resolution. Well, I did achieve partial results for two resolutions – but that’s about it. I present my year-end report:

Year 2010 Resolution List – Year End Report

Start writing my Marketing textbook – Zilch progress. I am going to defer this project by at least two years – let me focus on my Ph D and Masters first.
Start my second Masters – Zero.
Write my Ph D proposal and submit for approval – Still nothing on the plate but now that I am with Sunway University, I will commence next year.
Write two short stories and get them published – Still-born.
Achieve Toastmasters’ recognitions: ACG and ALB – Started April 13, 2010; completed April 22, 2010 and so completed 50%. Need to work on Leadership track.
Teach 1000 hours for period October 2009-September 2010 – I am not tracking this anymore because at Sunway University, this is not my only one activity.
Direct 45,000 visits to my blog – My total hits todate is 38820, which represents 86.3% of target.

A lesser mortal would have just given up this idea of having resolutions. However, I am reminded of what Brooks Atkinson said: “Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past. Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go”. Yep, I agree – I must move on.

Under-fire Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has said sorry to fans for any offence caused by his comments after the home defeat by Wolves and vowed he will not quit.

The club's eighth league loss of the season to the relegation scrappers on Wednesday was greeted by boos and catcalls and whoops of censure and in the closing stages of the defeat by Wolves – who had not previously won away all season – fans sarcastically chanted "Hodgson for England". Following the match, Hodgson appeared to suggest their energy would be better directed to getting behind the team. "I have to hope the fans will become supporters because we need support. We are not deliberately losing games," he had said.

Today, Hodgson changed his mind and said: "Fans always have the right to show their anger and disapproval – we’ve got fantastic fans but you have to give them something to be passionate about and we didn't do that on Wednesday". He’s damn right! And I still say that the time to dump him is now! Enough is enough!

The 18-time league champions are 12th in the table with 22 points from 18 games, their lowest total going into the new year since the 1953-54 season, which ended in relegation.

The Face of Anorexia


Isabelle Caro pictured in 2008. Photo credit: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/news/isabelle-caro-the-face-of-anorexia-dies-at-28-2172590.html#

Remember Isabelle Caro? She was the French model who posed in the nude and whose emaciated image appeared in a shocking 2007 ad campaign against anorexia. The controversial campaign occurred during a debate among the fashionistas in the use of "ultra-thin" models on the catwalk. The posters were banned by the Italian advertising watchdog but the images went viral online, sparking heated debates worldwide.


A billboard in Rome showing Oliviero Toscani's campaign that used an image of Isabelle Caro to raise awareness of anorexia. Image credit: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/news/isabelle-caro-the-face-of-anorexia-dies-at-28-2172590.html?action=Gallery&ino=2

At the time of the poster campaign, Caro who literally became the poster child for the campaign against anorexia was 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed only 32 kg.

Caro, who had struggled with anorexia since she was 13, chose to battle her demons in public in a bid to warn women away from the disease. She appeared on talk shows and wrote a blog and then a book titled The Little Girl Who Didn't Want to Get Fat.

Here is a video clip of Jessica Simpson’s interview with Caro – to hear the latter’s story:

She died on 17 November at the age of 28 but news of her death was kept secret until this week. I picked up this story from UK’s The Independent today.

"My anorexia causes death," Caro had explained in an interview three years ago. "It is everything but beauty, the complete opposite. It is an unvarnished photo, without make-up. The message is clear – I have psoriasis, a pigeon chest, the body of an elderly person".

The Italian photographer Oliviero Toscani, who shot the hard-hitting campaign, made a similar argument. "Looking at my ad, girls with anorexia would say to themselves that they have to stop dieting," he said at the time. "When you do something extreme, there are always people who oppose it. It shouldn't be the photos that shock, but the reality".

In Malaysia, where food is in abundance 24/7, it will be hard for anybody to want to be anorexic, kan? In fact, it would be plain silly because you can eat just about anything, anywhere, and anytime!

Wacky Anti-aging Products

I read about these products on Yahoo! posted on December 16 and I thought I should share them with my readers in my blog because they actually do work to varying degrees – well, most of the time anyway but not necessarily for all the featured products.

And if you are the type of person who is forever looking for the secrets of the fountain of youth, then any anti-aging “miracles” that are being promoted will spark your attention and interest.

Product: Frownies Facial pads

Price: $19.95
Targets: deep forehead wrinkles and crow's feet
How it works: Stick-on pads “re-educate” your facial muscles by molding your skin into smoother shape overnight.
The good: They work! According to Jessica Wu, a cosmetic dermatologist who tested the product for Harper’s Bazaar. “They keep your facial muscles from contracting and lines from becoming deeper,” she explained. Other beauty hounds that put them to the test had similar results.
The bad: One online review warns of the lack of scientific evidence and the possibility of the adhesive gel affecting sensitive skin.
The verdict: For $20, it's definitely worth a try.

Product: DermaSilk 5 Minute Facelift
Price: $40
Targets: Fine lines and wrinkles
How it works: A special ingredient called Helix Aspersa secretions takes most of the credit for this product's effectiveness. For those who don't know, it's snail slime. “The skin renewal substance gathered from the secretions of the Helix Aspersa – an element the snail itself uses to quickly regenerate its own shell and skin when damaged… is now available to give skin a more dewy texture,” according to the product's 2007 press release.
The good: In Consumer Reports' 2010 test of anti-aging serums, this one came out on top.
The bad: The product’s effectiveness was still considered “slight” when put to the test by the magazine's participants. Overall, all of the serums they tested “made little difference on average in the skin's appearance.”
The gross: Reminder – contains snail slime.
The verdict: Cheaper than a facelift, but also not as effective.

Product: Neckline Slimmer

Price: $20
Targets: waddle
How it works: It's basically a pogo stick for your neck muscles, the jaw workout comes with three different taut springs and an "accelerator" cream.
The good: ConsumerSearch writer Sage McHugh points to at least one happy customer, who used the product for 30 days and noticed a definite difference.
The bad: A running list of online complaints about results, hidden charges and the occasional jaw pain hover around the product. And according to Consumer Reports' ShopSmart research, the science behind the device is baseless. "[It] mainly exercises neck-flexor muscles that have nothing to do with a heavy neck or a double chin...and are not correctable with exercise."
The verdict: Don’t expect miracles, in fact, don't expect much.

And lastly this product is directed to my friend, Kenneth Lee because he is still involved with Dreamland bedding products. I can recall that when I worked there, we had developed a range of pillows from anti-snoring pillows to body pillows. So this product might just make him sit up!

Product: Ageless Sleep Pillow
Price: $70
Target: Cheek wrinkles and crow's feet
How it works: Cradles your head so you don’t get pillow imprints or crinkled skin. It also positions your body in a way that keeps your airways opened which may mean better sleep, which always improves skin appearance.
The good: It's natural, and definitely won't do you any harm. And if it helps you sleep better, your overall appearance will improve. Dermatologist Dr. Katie Rodan recommends the cradle-design to improve skin, backing up the claim that standard pillows speed up the aging process. "I can usually tell what side a patient sleeps on when I look at her face," she revealed to Marie-Claire. "The wrinkles will be more compressed, and they might have an unnatural line next to their nose from the pressure."
The bad: The shape of the pillow might take getting used to, or make it hard at first to fall asleep.
The verdict: It’s expensive for a pillow but the 30-day money-back guarantee makes it worth trying out.
.
So there you are! Products that can help you usher in the new year without feelings of alcohol-soaked worries! You can party and still stay young! Hopefully.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Warning from British Unionists

BBC News reports today that the TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, has said 2011 would be a "horrible" year of cuts. In his New Year message the union boss claimed there would be cuts in jobs and real cuts in living standards. He added the year could also be a tough one for the UK government, which may face further angry protests.


I cheered up when I knew that Celtic will end 2010 top of the SPL after beating Motherwell 1-0 in Glasgow – anyway they have played two games more than their Glasgow rivals. Paddy McCourt's skilful run and shot gave the home side their solitary goal in the 27th minute.

A Foolhardy Stunt

New Straits Times reported on December 28 that Viva Palestina Malaysia (VPM) staged a flash mob event two Mondays ago by staging an assault in KL Sentral station to remind the public that Gazans are still under siege. In the mock-up, a group of armed men (supposedly Israeli soldiers) “stormed” the building and dragged an old Palestinian man along the floor, in an attempt to abduct him. A couple of women and children were seen to plead unsuccessfully with the masked “soldiers” to show mercy. Commuters were generally stunned by the spectacle.


Musa Mohd Nordin, the VPM medical committee chief, played the role of the old Palestinian man in the skit and said that the flash-scene was based on reality: “When I was there in Palestine, we saw events like that on a daily basis.”

The guns used in the play were only plastic and Musa's own pair of glasses was shattered while performing the act. He said, “We're trying to show Malaysians the violence that's happening there and awaken society, so everyone would rise against oppression.”

Ah-h-h, that familiar word “Oppression”. Why are we so intent on showcasing something that is thousands of miles away when the oppression is unfolding right at our doorstep?

Malaysia already offers so much. We have tyrannical laws in our statute books such as the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) and the University & University College Act 1971 (UUCA). We have rules and regulations that favor one privileged group of citizens while the others are alienated. We have the police who enjoy using brute force – when citizens hold candles, they get arrested; when citizens protest, they get blitzed by tear gas and sprayed with chemical-laced water.

What’s more this was a foolhardy stunt – what if people panic? What if this was not play-acting and it was very real? Terrorists with assault rifles. Where are our security forces? Hmmm… we seem to think we are safe! And I wonder if the organizers received police approval to stage this event?

Red Alert in Selangor

The appointment of hostile Mohd Khusrin Munawi as the Selangor state secretary without first consulting Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim is a violation of the spirit of the state constitution, DAP’s Lim Kit Siang claimed today. Worse, Putrajaya should not have involved the Sultan in the appointment of the state secretary as there is equally no mention in the state constitution that the Sultan must first be informed of the appointment nor that any royal consent is needed

I certainly agree with Lim that Chief Secretary to the Government Sidek Hassan should have been extra careful in appointing the “most unpopular officer” to work with the state Pakatan Rakyat government. “The Chief Secretary, who has been delegated the constitutional task to make the appointment, should be mindful of the different political coalitions running the federal and Selangor state governments and the importance of ensuring an appointee who could work as a bridge-builder or at least not seen as inimical to the Selangor state government interests vis-à-vis the federal government,” said Lim. It just shows that this Federal authority has scant respect for the concept of federalism. Lim is right when he said that “constitutional convention” of consulting the MB on the appointment should have been observed, stressing that the “healthy growth” of federal-state relations could be well affected by these series of developments

And Selangor citizens should worry because if we can recall the Perak coup d'etat, what is happening to Selangor now presents a strong possibility of a repeat of this shameful debacle. In Perak's case, the PR government was brought down not through a vote of no confidence or elections but through the state secretary who had asked the MB and his executive councillors to vacate their office and make use of the police FRU to barricade the state administrative building.
.
Supporters of both the Reds and the Gunners should be justifiably disappointed with the outcomes of the two EPL matches – Wolves beat Liverpool 1-0 and Wigan held Arsenal to a 2-2 draw, both teams dropping precious points they can ill-afford to lose. As for Roy Hodgson, to lose to the league's basement club is really embarrassing. It's time he gets the sack – he has done zilch to inspire the team!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cuban Heroes

UK’s The Independent featured a Nina Lakhani story on December 26, 2010 about the real heroes of the Haitian earthquake disaster, the human catastrophe on America's doorstep which Barack Obama pledged a monumental US humanitarian mission to alleviate. Except these heroes are from America's neighbor Cuba, whose doctors and nurses have put US efforts to shame.

A medical brigade of 1,200 Cubans is operating all over earthquake-torn and cholera-infected Haiti, as part of Fidel Castro's international medical mission which has won the socialist state many friends, but little international recognition.

Observers of the Haiti earthquake could be forgiven for thinking international aid agencies were alone in tackling the devastation that killed 250,000 people and left nearly 1.5 million homeless. In fact, Cuban healthcare workers have been in Haiti since 1998, so when the earthquake struck the 350-strong team jumped into action. And amid the fanfare and publicity surrounding the arrival of help from the US and the UK, hundreds more Cuban doctors, nurses and therapists arrived with barely a mention. Most countries were gone within two months, again leaving the Cubans and Médecins Sans Frontières as the principal healthcare providers for the impoverished Caribbean island.
.
John Kirk, a professor of Latin American studies at Dalhousie University, Canada who researches Cuba's international medical teams said: "Cuba's contribution in Haiti is like the world's greatest secret. They are barely mentioned, even though they are doing much of the heavy lifting."
.
Wherever they are invited, Cubans implement their prevention-focused holistic model, visiting families at home, proactively monitoring maternal and child health. This has produced "stunning results" in parts of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, lowering infant and maternal mortality rates, reducing infectious diseases and leaving behind better trained local health workers, according to Professor Kirk's research.
.
Medical training in Cuba lasts six years – a year longer than in the UK – after which every graduate works as a family doctor for three years minimum. Working alongside a nurse, the family doctor looks after 150 to 200 families in the community in which they live.

This model has helped Cuba to achieve some of the world's most enviable health improvements, despite spending only $400 (£260) per person last year compared with $3,000 (£1,950) in the UK and $7,500 (£4,900) in the US, according to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development figures.

I am not just wanting to salute this monumental contribution of the Cubans but rather to also suggest that Malaysia could send students to Cuba for medical training. Obviously Cuban doctors and healthcare workers are really special – not only have they demonstrated their medical prowess but also that they are imbued with a strong sense of social responsibility. We can certainly learn from Cuba.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Santa David Chong








Yesterday, the Sunway School of Business threw a Christmas party – heaps of food, bagfuls of presents, peals of laughter. And with David Chong (friend and fellow lecturer) as the Santa, the occasion is bound to be merry. And it was.

The Singapore government had wanted the three major Internet service providers (ISPs) to disclose average surfing speeds to market their broadband. StarHub, SingTel and M1 currently market their plans based on their maximum speeds – which are usually not achievable under normal Internet conditions. In Malaysia, it’s also the same story. In fact, I am surprised that ISPs have been getting away with misinforming customers all this while.

Anyway, Singapore’s Straits Times reported today that ISPs had objected to the Government's proposal – all three arguing that many factors affect Internet speeds, making it impossible for them to define an average speed. Any attempts to do so would be inaccurate and misleading, they say. Wow, they actually don’t think it right to feed us with inaccurate and misleading information! These ISPs are really a conscientious lot!


Arsenal gave the blues to Chelsea after they emphatically finished off the latter with a stylish 3-1 victory. Alex Song gave the Gunners their first goal when he slid a close-range finish past Cech (44). Cesc Fabregas added the second from Theo Walcott's pass (51) after Michael Essien inadvertently turned the ball towards his own goal. Walcott then sent the home fans at the Emirates into ecstasy by adding a third in Arsenal's next attack, racing clear to beat Cech (53) as Fabregas returned the favor with a perfect pass to send him through. Branislav Ivanovic's header (57) was Chelsea’s only reply.

Monday, December 27, 2010

1Malaysia Logo Ban

The Selangor Government has put a ban on billboards and signages depicting the 1Malaysia logo. Their reasoning is simple. As Faekah Husin, the Selangor Mentri Besar’s political secretary explains, the slogan was the outcome of a political decision, and not inspired by the people (Webpage http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2010/12/25/nation/7686619&sec=nation, posted December 25, 2010). “We are simply tired of the hypocrisy of Barisan’s slogan,” she had said. Well said but that doesn’t mean this PR state government should be petty, kan?

"Local government by-laws in Selangor clearly state that political symbols cannot be used on billboard advertisements," reiterated state Housing and Local Government Committee chairman Ronnie Liu. He said the 1Malaysia advertisements were a political message of the BN coalition.

Of course you can expect BN fellas to clobber this idea of banning the 1Malaysia logo. And finally Najib who claimed he is the originator of the 1Malaysia concept came out with a statement on Saturday that 1Malaysia is not a Government political agenda as it is aimed at fostering the spirit of togetherness and unity among Malaysians, Ah-huh, if it is a tool for Malaysians to close ranks, why have we become so divided? Furthermore, I still maintain that 1Malaysia is 100% poppycock. Don’t just accept what I say – read also my posting dated August 05, 2010 and you will realize I am not the only skeptic.

I suspect Malaysia’s top leadership knows that Malaysians are a shallow lot. When they become Prime Ministers, they all mounted a heavy blitz of public relations which invariably always are spearheaded by snazzy slogans promising, dare I say it, transformational change!?

When Mahathir Mohamed was Prime Minister, he came out with “Bersih, Cekap dan Amanah” (“Clean, Efficient and Trustworthy”). And we all know that under Mahathir, corruption really went to town! Then came Abdullah Badawi who forged his “Islam Hadhari” (an approach to foster an Islamic civilization built upon the noble values and ideals of Islam). It is all but forgotten now. And Najib Razak pushed his 1Malaysia ideology and everybody and anybody conveniently attach 1Malaysia to everything and anything.

These politicians know the power of political sloganeering. Simple-minded Malaysians will simply lap it all up. They failed to realize that our political leaders don’t quite subscribe to their own slogans. That is why they only know how to “talk the talk” and not “walk the talk”. They’re just a bunch of con artists.

Still, the logo ban did raise opposition even within PR ranks. PKR political bureau member R. Sivarasa said the people should be free to express their views even if they were from opposing political parties. “I’m not in favor of this ban. Why should Pakatan restrict freedom of expression when it is the people’s right to do so?” he had asked. Even DAP’s Lim Kit Siang has called for a review to prove that the Pakatan government was not afraid of the 1Malaysia concept.

Honestly, it is just not worth debating the merits and/or demerits of this 1Malaysia logo ban because this whole 1Malaysia concept is pointlessly nonsensical.

Wait a minute. Ronnie Liu just made a U-turn, saying he is going to give the ‘ban’ decision a second look. WTF! Isn’t he behaving like a politician? I forgot – he is a politician!

Education Cuts in Scotland

The Star on Friday highlighted Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s remarks that Sarawakians must not make the “wrong choice” in the coming state election. The way he said it is as if they have made a wrong choice and they must not repeat this mistake! He said the state election would be called at a time when Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud saw it fit. And Taib has until July next year before the current term of the state assembly ends. Yeap, I agree with Muhyiddin – let me earnestly express the hope that the people in Sarawak don’t repeat the mistake.

According to UK’s The Daily Express on December 21, 2010, funding for Scotland’s universities will be slashed by £120 million next year as part of the SNP’s public spending cuts. Taking tuition fees and teaching grants into account, the gross income for universities and colleges from public sources will drop by 8 per cent, more than the 6 per cent cut for universities south of the Border. It comes as the Scottish Government is forced to find £900 million worth of savings due to cuts to the Scottish block grant from Westminster.

Mary Senior, of the University and College Union, said: “The rest of the world is investing in higher education and we risk being left behind if we continue to wrongly think we can cut education.”

As with England, Scotland is also getting screwed up. Hopefully, the SNP will not follow the Lib-Dems and renege on their pledge. In SNP’s case, they had promised to provide free university education for Scots. They just have to be more creative in order that they can keep their pledge.


In the SPL game between Celtic and St Johnstone, Cha Du-Ri and Ki Sung-Yeung scored both goals (90+1, 90+3) in injury time for the former in what has been described as an uninspiring encounter with Saints in Glasgow. It's still worth 3 points, right?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

UnGaGa Over GaGa

Malaysian conglomerate Sime Darby Bhd has made good on its intention to sue those responsible for the RM2.1 billion losses from their troubled energy and utilities division. The plantations, property and power group revealed that it has sued former chief executive officer Ahmad Zubir Murshid and four others for RM177 million in three loss-making projects.

Okay, so this is a positive development. But who else should be made accountable? Shouldn’t the Board of Directors be liable as well? Of course they knew about the deals – please don’t think they are stupid! So let’s see if Sime Darby will haul up these people too.

Scary monster of rock Ozzy Osbourne used his public forum last week to slam supposedly overexposed Lady Gaga. Ozzy flat-out told Us Weekly: "I do think Lady Gaga should take a break for a little while. She could be the next Madonna if she played her cards right. I like her, but I'm getting a bit sick of her. When I turn on the TV, I see her wearing another lampshade or whatever. She needs to take a break, I think, for an hour or so. I love her, I think she's really, really entertaining, but she's doing a bit too much. The specialness of her is gonna get killed if she doesn't calm it down. Who manages her? Someone should whisper in her ear and say back off for a couple of months – let people gain interest back. Let people want you, you know?"

Oh yeah? Methinks Ozzy is worried that Lady Gaga is on a roll and she is going to be bigger than everybody else on this planet! So what if she is wearing another lampshade? How many people do you know who can wear one and still look G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S? Only Lady Gaga of course! Eat your heart out, Ozzy! Oops, I forgot – you don’t have any!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas in Malaysia

Check out these photos of Christmas in Malaysia:


At Sunway Pyramid



At Pavilion KL

At Suria KLCC


At One Utama

At Mid-Valley

And also check out the world's most expensive Christmas tree. A 13-meter (40-foot) high Christmas tree decorated with over $11 million dollars' worth of jewellery is on display at the glitzy Emirates Palace hotel in the United Arab Emirates capital, Abu Dhabi. The bejewelled tree holds a total of 181 diamonds, pearls, emeralds, sapphires and other precious stones, said Khalifa Khouri, owner of Style Gallery, which provided the jewellery. For this luxury hotel, where royalty and billionaires come for cappuccinos topped with gold flakes, the tree almost seems part of the furniture.



The hotel, which bills itself as seven-star, in February introduced a package for a seven-day stay priced at one million dollars. Takers of the package have a private butler and a chauffeur-driven Maybach luxury car at their disposal during their stay, as well as a private jet available for trips to other countries in the region. Well, I am looking for a sponsor – any takers?

And since I am on the subject of trees, here's Lady Gaga singing her version of "Christmas Tree":

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Greetings 2010


Image credit: http://blog.brothersoft.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/free_christmas_wishes_screensaver.png

Here's wishing everybody A Really Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!

Scholarship Deception






Metro Toastmasters Club had a Christmas-themed meeting on Thursday. Jade Lim and I were the two Indrahanians who attended this meeting. It’s been quite awhile since I last made a speech and so this time around, I took part in the Table Topics session. It was good to know that I had not lost my touch because I was voted the Best Table Topics speaker. It was also pleasing to note that newbies contributed toward ensuring this club put on a good show and certainly, I did enjoy this meeting immensely. Very much in keeping with the spirit of Christmas, there was caroling, with Janis Santiago and her guitar providing the musical accompaniment. Even the Toastmaster of the Evening, Shukur came dressed as a Santa. A fun evening altogether.

In my preceding posting, I blogged about UCSI University’s big lie. I just realized that the university had put out an earlier ad in the said newspaper on December 14 itself. Although a public apology was later tended because of this “technical oversight” (as the university described the fib) – when it’s a one-time occurrence, I suppose we can excuse them, but when it’s two ads on two different dates promoting deception, then it becomes inexcusable.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Big Lie

When I first spotted the UCSI University ad (p N21) on December 18 in the Star newspaper, I blinked my eyes twice and then I opened my mouth in yawning disbelief. They are offering a colossal RM700 million worth of scholarships! And if you believe this, then pigs can fly! Yes, a snowball’s chance in hell. Of course, the university got caught with their pants down. And so they had to retract this jumbo claim and eat humble pie by coming out with an apology (a quarter-page ad in the Star, December 22, 2010, p N37) clarifying that they are only intending to allocate RM7 million in 2011. Locally, UCSI University is known for being recklessly daring in many of the things they do, and this is just another one of their boastful ploy.

Celtic squandered away their chances and could only manage a 1-1 draw against in-form Kilmarnock. The former dominated the first half but could not find a breakthrough and then Killie Conor Sammon blasted a goal to give his team a surprise lead (53). But Thomas Rogne headed Celtic level with six minutes remaining and neither side could grab a winner.

Rafa Benitez has been given the boot – his contract at San Siro was abruptly terminated. And so, his just over 6-month reign at Inter Milan is over. He should have stayed with Liverpool but he got too arrogant.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Deep Freeze

Arctic conditions continue to smother Britain, and not excluding Europe. Roads are treacherous. Rail travel is in disarray. Air travel is severely disrupted. In fact, around 1,000 flights were cancelled across the continent on Tuesday. Even London’s Heathrow Airport is not spared:

Photo of the long queues in Terminal 3.

Photo of sleeping passengers on makeshift beds also in Terminal 3 on Tuesday.

And in Terminal 5 too.


Passengers stranded at Heathrow were forced to sleep wherever they could. Many bedded down on the floors, surrounded by their luggage and piles of rubbish, while others used foil blankets to ward off the extreme cold. Photo credit: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/weather/8216531/European-Commission-hits-out-at-unacceptable-snow-chaos-and-tells-airports-to-get-serious.html

Snow ploughs clear the taxi ways at Heathrow Airport but no flights were allowed to land there Sunday. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA

Photo of Heathrow Airport on Monday.

And even football pitches are frozen, so games got cancelled.

Photo of frozen New Douglas Park in Hamilton, Scotland, home of Hamilton Accies.

The Acquittal of Rosli Dahlan

After 3 years (since 2007) of seeking justice against offences he did not commit, lawyer Rosli Dahlan is finally a free man to resume his legal practice and rebuild his family life. On Monday, Judge Abu Bakar Khattar acquitted him without his defense being called.

Justice may have been served even though he and his family suffered distress, agony and humiliation as a result of the callous action of the Attorney-General and MACC. Rosli is simply, a victim of selective prosecution. This is the evil that some Malaysians do to other Malaysians.

And for the naïve amongst us who believe that fee hikes in the UK is the only painful thing that will strike at students going into universities, think again! Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced that universities will have to grapple cuts of nearly £700 million in their budgets next year. The Independent (Webpage
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/university-cuts-a-kick-in-the-teeth-2165302.html) reported on Monday that student numbers will be frozen this year – and funding for an extra 10,000 places agreed by the cursed Tory-Lib Dem Government for this September will be withdrawn the following year. The announcement comes as universities face an unprecedented demand for student places next September.

Up to 209,000 youngsters denied a place this autumn will be competing with those anxious to avoid paying higher tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year coming into force in September 2012.

The biggest victim of this year’s cuts is capital funding – pared from £532 million this year to £223 million next. The teaching budget will also be pauperized from £4,949 million to £4.645 million – prompting fears of further redundancies and axed courses. Grants for research will also be impoverished from £1,618 million to £1, 549 million.

The funding cut, which comes into effect before they can expect any increased revenue from rises in tuition fees, was described as “a Christmas kick in the teeth” by lecturers’ leaders.

British students will not take this lying down – they will fight back! And other stakeholders are sure to join in.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ultraman Max Forgets

The dust is settling down from the Cancun climate conference, and many commentators have given the verdict that the multilateral system was saved, but not the climate. They were talking about the avoidance of another collapse following last year’s calamitous talks at Copenhagen. I don’t think it was a good outcome but certainly developing countries will have to do much more. These countries are now obliged to place mitigation targets in national schedules similar to the tariff or services schedules in the WTO. The aim is to eventually get them to be as binding as the targets of developed countries. And the latter’s own obligations have been downgraded, which is a disappointment and a real shame. The legally-binding regime that was the Kyoto Protocol is no more and in its place a non-binding national pledge system in which they would volunteer to do whatever they choose. Developed countries are damnably dishonorable.

I thought this was a really funny Ultraman Max video clip when I first saw it on Facebook. His hilarious antics actually made me laugh. It’s reassuring to know that even super-heroes do forget sometimes… And Robert Louis Stevenson immediately comes to mind because he once said “I've a grand memory for forgetting”. Hahaha, he’s not the only one!

Hebephile or Husband?

Malaysia has many laws to rein in her citizens. Malaysian kids under 16 cannot have a motorbike license and therefore legally are not allowed to ride a motorbike. Those under 17 cannot have a car license and therefore legally are not allowed to drive a car. Those under 18 cannot purchase ciggies or buy alcoholic beverages. Those who are less than 21 years old cannot vote. And Malaysian university and college students, regardless of their age, are not allowed to participate in any political activities whatsoever.

But yet, a 14 year old can get hitched and then get laid. Teenager Siti Maryam Mahmod married teacher and family friend, Abdul Manan Othman. They were one of 250 couples at the 1Malaysia mass wedding reception held at the Federal Territory mosque on December 04, 2010. She is 14 years old. He is 23 years old.
.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom, who was the event’s guest-of-honor, was reported to have said the marriage was legal as it had the Syariah Court’s consent. Even Women, Family and Community Development Minister, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, herself a full blown woman, said it’s okay as long as the Syariah Courts approve the marriage.

Society was up in arms when Michael Jackson allegedly displayed a sexual preference for children at the cusp of puberty, between the ages of, roughly, 11 to 14 years of age. But Abdul Manan Othman used marriage to hide his hebephilea. Aren’t both of them the same?

"We need to protect the child", said Ivy Josiah, executive director of leading activist group Women's Aid Organization, as she pointed out that the Child Act recognizes a child as anyone below 18.

Currently, Muslim girls below the age of 16 can marry with the Syariah Court’s consent while non-Muslim girls between 16 and 18 years old can marry with the authorization of the Mentri Besar (i.e. Chief Minister).

Activists have said underage marriage is unacceptable, calling for law reforms to curb the practice which they said is widespread. Some 16,000 Malaysian girls aged below 15 are already married.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Egg Story


Fellow Toastmasters, do come for Loghan’s workshop on January 08, 2011 at Sunway University. Even non-Toastmasters are welcome because you not only get tips on contesting but also get introduced to the wonderful world of Toastmastering! You may also get the tickets from me.
.

Oh yes, I caught this piece of news in Singapore’s The Straits Times dated December 14, 2010 – Nickson Fong, the Hollywood animator whom I mentioned in my blog posting dated December 04 – is reported to have shut down his production company, Egg Story Creative Production and laid off about 30 employees. The paper said he was a victim of the financial turmoil that hit the industry last year. I cannot help but wonder whether he will still be collaborating with HICT? Then again, The Straits Times did also mention that Egg Story Digital Arts School has separate management and is not affected by the closure. I must admit that he is talented – see his animation work for the Singapore Navy:

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Unlocking the Key

Yesterday District 51 organized the second series of TLI trainings for club officers – and this time, it was held at IJM in Petaling Jaya. I presented myself as Vice President Education, Taman Indrahana Toastmasters Club as well as Vice President Public Relations, KL Advanced Toastmasters Club. There were about 120-plus club officers in at the start of the meeting but when it drew to a close, only half had stayed back. This sure tells you of their interest and dedication to training. I must say that compared to previous TLIs – at least the organizers did put in good effort to make it engrossing. I particularly enjoyed the “Magic Moments” session presented by LG Education & Training, Sue Chan, DTM for the simple reason it gave me tips that I must consider when I prepare for the International Speech contests early next year.
.
And as for the forthcoming Loghan’s workshop, “Unlocking the Key to Contests” – organized by Taman Indrahana Toastmasters Club in association with the School of Business, Sunway University – on January 08, 2011, I sold nine tickets on Saturday!

And today I was on duty at the Open Day at Sunway University. I did my part – I know I managed to get at least 5 enrollments for the BBS program next year and a few others who were opting for the other Business courses. A busy day indeed.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

4 MPs Suspended 6 Months

Who would have thought that BN will stoop so low as to suspend four Opposition MPs (Anwar Ibrahim, R Sivarasa, Karpal Singh and Azmin Ali) on the final day of the twelfth Parliament’s third session? Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia did just that – he had threatened to invoke Standing Order 44 to suspend Anwar for six months over the latter’s March 2010 statements in parliament that linked a government public-relations campaign ("1Malaysia") and involving APCO Worldwide to a similar political campaign (“One Israel”) in the 1999 Israeli general election.

APCO had disputed Anwar's claim. So too had Najib's government, which dismissed Anwar's allegation as a political stunt before vengeful government lawmakers began moves to censure him. Opposition MPs staged a walkout and the motion to suspend Anwar was approved without debate.

Anwar's suspension was recommended by the Rights and Privileges committee comprising of BN MPs who didn’t permit Anwar to state his defense. This was strange because the committee had based their decision solely on a letter from APCO denying Anwar's allegation. This was a one-sided outcome because the powers-that-be listened to APCO but did not extend the same privilege to Anwar.

Three other opposition lawmakers were also suspended for six months for allegedly leaking information from a parliamentary inquiry into whether Anwar misled the legislature – a move that potentially allows the ruling BN to regain a two-thirds parliamentary majority, which is enough to change electoral boundaries and other election procedures to its advantage.

And for those who didn’t know, APCO Worldwide did indeed work for the Malaysian government. Anwar’s vilification of this public affairs and strategic communications firm may be frivolous – but don’t forget that RPK (Raja Petra Kamarudin) has already confirmed that last summer, this entity had in fact, successfully arranged for the photography and videotaping session plus organizing events for Malaysia’s First Lady, i.e. Rosmah Mansor. They also arranged events for Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. And they coordinated plus organized Najib Razak’s visit to the US. Malaysian taxpayers certainly paid millions of Ringgit to give Najib bragging rights with Barack Obama (Webpage
http://www.malaysia-today.net/mtcolumns/36532-what-apco-did-last-summer, posted December 08, 2010).

Snow and Ice

BBC News reported today that the weather in Scotland is not getting any better. Heavy snow and ice are causing massive disruption. Already, forecasters have predicted frequent snow showers throughout the day and temperatures will struggle to reach above zero. The Met Office issued severe weather warnings for the whole of the country, warning of heavy and drifting snow in Grampian, the Highlands, northern and western isles, and widespread icy roads across the rest of Scotland. At least 200 schools in Scotland are closed.

And did you know that Scottish Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson had to resign after his department was criticized for their handling of the problems caused by the previous bout of severe weather? Talk about accountability! In Malaysia, this would be an alien concept because our Ministers are so hard-boiled, impenitent, case-hardened and thick-skinned! And Keith Brown who has succeeded him is not having it any easier either.


Photo showing heavy snow from Thursday evening into Friday in Aberdeen.