Monday, February 28, 2011

Rosmah-watching


Sunday Star, Malaysia, February 27, 2011, p N12.

Star, Malaysia, February 15, 2011, p N18.

Sunday Star, Malaysia, February 13, 2011, p N12.

Star, Malaysia, February 10, 2011, p N17.

Star, Malaysia, February 09, 2011, p N18.

Star, Malaysia, February 05, 2011, p N2.

Star, Malaysia, February 05, 2011, p N4.

I have decided to continue with this interesting activity called ‘Rosmah-watching’. So, I monitored mainly the Star newspaper in February, and see if she is still loving the limelight! And what do you know? She does – she graced the newspaper(s) for 46% of the time in the month of February 2011, as can be noted below:

‘Visits uplift our image’ – FEB 28 (p N2)
Rosmah: Women have rightful place in society – FEB 27 (p N12)
Rosmah honoured – FEB 24 (p N31)
Rosmah to get Ankara award for her social work – FEB 20 (p N8)
All revved up for school – FEB 15 (p N18)
Rosmah: Formative years shape a child’s future – FEB 13 (p N12)
Lead a healthy lifestyle to prevent stroke, says Rosmah – FEB 10 (p N17)
Courtesy Call – FEB 09 (New Straits Times, p 09)
Rosmah: Care for the needy – FEB 09 (p N18)
Welcome home – FEB 08 (p N01)
PM and wife’s personal ties a big help – FEB 06 (p N2)
PM: Our citizens abroad are a patriotic lot – FEB 05, p N2
Understand religions to enhance unity, says Rosmah – FEB 03, p N24.

I am in a heightened state of incredulity because I have never come across a woman so conceited as Rosmah Mansor, the wife of the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

A Majestic Win





Today, being the last day of my UCS3001 Leadership class, the BBS/BBM group of students organized a class photo. Well, photos. As you will notice, the theme color was ‘blue’ – a sign of Monday morning blues perhaps? Although it did weigh heavily on their shoulders when they trooped into class at 8:30AM this morning, it quickly melted away once class was over! You can see the smiling faces – sigh, am I such an uninteresting lecturer?


The King’s Speech, a historical drama tale about the stammering King George VI’s relationship with his speech therapist, justified heavy favoritism to carry off four Oscars, including the top prize of Best Picture at the 2011 Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, USA.

The British film, made for a paltry nine million pounds, capped an unlikely run that has seen it generate more than £150 million at the box office and will make multi-millionaires of its little-known producers by scooping almost every major award it was shortlisted for. Tom Hooper won for Best Director, David Seidler won for Best Original Screenplay, and Colin Firth, was named Best Actor for his performance in the title role.

Indeed it is an extraordinary film because I too have made five postings that are related to this movie alone. I was very much inspired. So no surprise here for The King’s Speech to have secured four Oscars.

I did also feature the movie "Inception" and it is nice to know that it won four prizes in technical categories, i.e. Cinematography, Sound mixing, Sound editing and Visual effects.

Questionable Authorship of PhD Thesis


Here's a photo of a group of Botswana students from my UCS3001 Leadership class – the occasion was Amogelang Jeremiah’s (fourth from left) birthday on Wednesday.

UK’s The Independent on Sunday reported that the London School of Economics (LSE) is embroiled in a row over authorship of a PhD thesis by Gaddafi's son (left) and a £1.5 million gift to university's coffers in July 2009.

A statement issued by the LSE Students' Union on Saturday said: "LSE students are angry and upset that university officials are using degrees at the LSE to raise vast sums of money. There are serious questions about Saif al-Islam's PhD, and we call for an external investigation into the matter". Even a prestigious institution like LSE is willing to stoop so low…

Birmingham City snatched the Carling Cup with a dramatic last-gasp winner from substitute Obafemi Martins. A calamitous Arsenal defensive mix-up two minutes from time allowed the Blues to win 2-1 over the former, thereby claiming their first major silverware since 1963. Arsenal once more failed to deliver when it mattered most.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Campus Polls Signal Change




The Hindraf rally against Interlok and UMNO’s racism at KLCC petered out before it actually started – for the simple reason that the police acted before they could even come together. Still, there were small pockets of protests in a couple of locations in the city – all of which were well-contained by heavy police presence. Police had confirmed that 109 people were arrested, including eight women and two journalists.

KL police chief Zulkifli Abdullah had thanked leaders from thirteen Indian NGOs for helping the police in warning the Indian community against joining the illegal demonstration. Besides, today’s demo was no big deal because according to Zulkifli, less than 500 people were actually involved.

Muhyiddin Yassin had claimed on February 14, 2011 in Jasin, Malacca that attempts by Hindraf (a.k.a. Human Rights Party) to exploit the Interlok novel issue will not get the support of the majority in the Indian community. Well, looks like he was right, after all – the Indian community is already disunited and fragmented. Malaysian Indians will experience a grim future if they continue to be like this!

It’s good to read that political activism has returned to our Universities. The recently-concluded student elections, with the fracas in Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) on Thursday had plainly highlighted students’ disenchantment with university authorities.

Leaders of the anti-establishment pro-Mahasiswa group met by The Malaysian Insider on Friday said that the capture of seven of 20 varsities was their best performance since the Reformasi days of the late 1990s. The pro-Mahasiswa faction lobbies for student autonomy instead of government authority.

Pro-Mahasiswa leaders also told The Malaysian Insider that they campaigned for the devolving of power to student bodies and the abolition of “oppressive laws that restrict basic human rights” such as the University and University Colleges Act (UUCA), the Internal Security Act (ISA), Sedition Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA).

In 2010, they only held on to their stronghold of Universiti Islam Antarabangsa (UIA) and, even then, by a majority of one in the student council. Hopefully, the gains in this year’s campus polls can benefit Pakatan Rakyat.

Celtic was defeated 0-2 by Motherwell in this disappointing SPL match. And equally disappointing is the EPL match between Liverpool and West Ham, when the former lost 1-3 to the latter.

Leadership Lessons from The King's Speech


Canadian Patrick O'Neill writing in his newsletter “Extraordinary Conversations” calls The King's Speech one of the best contemporary portraits of a person being initiated into power. "Every leader, no matter what level of the organization they work in, should see this film," he advises.

O'Neill notes that the film illustrates three powers of leadership that were identified in Angeles Arrien's book The Four-Fold Way:

CLAIMING THE POWER OF PRESENCE

The power of presence means that we are able to bring four intelligences forward: mental, emotional, spiritual and physical. Prince Albert, or Bertie as he was known, played by Colin Firth, was a stammering, tongue-tied isolated man embarrassed by his own deficiencies.

But the film shows how he was supported by his speech therapist, Lionel Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush, to deal with the loneliness, neglect and bullying of his childhood.

"The leader's journey often requires facing difficult issues and challenges that have interfered with development or entrapped them in 'unfinished business,' " O'Neill writes.

"Presence is earned when leaders are able to remove these obstacles to befriending the self, and allow their gifts and talents to surface above the insecurities."

CLAIMING THE POWER OF COMMUNICATION

The focus in the film is on his struggle to communicate without stammering. He is frustrated by the many therapists and the methods they suggest, such as stuffing a half dozen glass balls down his throat while trying to read out loud. Logue's unconventional approach of singing, swearing and camaraderie starts to pay off as the member of royalty starts to trust the therapist and himself. "This is the leader's challenge. He or she must trust that they can find their own authentic voice. That is the voice that inspires and empowers others, the voice of true authority," O'Neill observes.

CLAIMING THE POWER OF POSITION

When his brother, King Edward, abdicates, the prince must confront his duty as heir to the throne. He is understandably fearful and uncertain, but realizes he must serve the nation. Through this decision, O'Neill stresses, he generates a communication breakthrough:

"The power of position means responsibility is taken for leadership. It is the willingness to face the challenges of an uncertain future from a place of courage, integrity and action. Certainly, the timing of Bertie's ascendancy could not have been less opportune. Europe was in chaos. Rather than focusing on his faults and deficiencies, Bertie enlists the support he needs to overcome his stammering and deliver a speech that not only declares war on Nazism but also transforms him into King George VI, one of Britain's greatest monarchs."

I found the above article in Canada’s Globe and Mail, posted on February 22, 2011. Certainly, my UCS3001 Leadership class students should see this movie.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A DIfferent Kind of Leader





This afternoon, I traversed to the other end of Sunway (or is it Subang?) to be at Taylor’s University which was hosting the Joint B1 & B2 International Speech and Table Topics Contest. There were close to 50 of us there, either as contestants, role players or audience. I came to participate in the Table Topics contest, representing Taman Indrahana Toastmasters Club. And I was the Area B2 champion! Fellow club member Chan Weng May (third photo on the right) also did well for she took first place in the International Speech contest. Both of us gave a good account of ourselves and I am glad we brought honors to our club. I have to admit that we were really good!

As for Area B1, Meyyappa (Deloitte KassimChan Toastmasters Club) and Bernard Louis (D’Utama Advanced Toastmasters Club) were the champions of the International Speech and Table Topics contests respectively. Personally, I believed Thiagarajah from MAS Melor Toastmasters Club (above right) should have won the International Speech contest but he only managed third place. As for Table Topics, I would have chosen Meyyappa as the winner but he came in second place. Sigh, maybe I really don't know how to pick the winners. Never mind, I stand by my own selection.

I found this video clip and I thought it is interesting because it shows a different kind of leader. When Japan Airlines hit hard times in 2009 and began to lay off staff, JAL CEO Haruka Nishimatsu cut his own pay to less than that of his pilots and eliminated all his perks. He even commutes on the city bus and eats in the employee cafeteria, standing in line with his colleagues. When is the last time you saw such a CEO?


Targeting Taib

BBC News reported on January 05, 2011 that Britain’s Queen has appeared to have given her blessing to the Oscar-nominated film The King's Speech, which portrays her father King George VI. The BBC's Rajesh Mirchandani said the Queen is understood to have had a private screening of the film and is said to have found it moving. The story details her father's battle against his speech impediment and also shows a young Princess Elizabeth.

Screenwriter David Seidler said the approval was the ultimate honor. Yes, indeed.

Malaysia Today yesterday carried Suaram’s call to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to probe Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud. The rights group said it was appalled by the government’s continued silence following the shocking exposure of a long list of foreign assets allegedly linked to the politician’s family.

Suaram coordinator Hasbeemasputra Abu Bakar also questioned why MACC had not swung into action despite the overwhelming evidence put forth by the Bruno Manser Fund and a number of other whistleblowers.

“This inaction could be seen as tacit approval of corruption and an inability or even unwillingness to crack down on corruption despite many public statements to the contrary,” he said.

Apart from initiating a probe, Hasbeemasputra also said that MACC should identify and freeze Taib’s alleged assets if need be so that they can be used for future restitution to the people of Sarawak.

Taib, who has been chief minister since 1981, is also the state finance minister as well as planning and resources minister. He and his family are believed to have set up a global business empire across eight countries and are allegedly worth several billions of ringgit, according to the list released by the BMF on February 21.

We all know that Taib won’t be touched, don’t we? Najib dare not lift a finger against him. Only Sarawakians can eject him – have they the courage?

Friday, February 25, 2011

General Election in Ireland


Today, polls open in the Republic of Ireland, the first eurozone state to hold a general election following a financial bailout. The burden of the bailout will likely loom large in voters' minds as they enter the polling booths, that’s for sure. Read my last posting on this issue dated February 17. The Irish use the system of proportional representation to elect members of parliament rather than the first-past-the-post method. Anyway, there are 566 candidates fighting in 43 constituencies for 165 seats in the Irish parliament (Dail Eireann).

I just want to cover two issues that I see are important for that country, i.e. tax increases versus spending cuts.

Fianna Fail: Plans to reduce the deficit by raising two-thirds of the money from savings in public spending and one-third from taxation.
Fine Gael: Tax increases make up 27% of its plan; the rest would come from spending cuts and the sale of state assets.
Labor: Plan is split 50:50 between spending cuts and new tax raising measures.
Sinn Fein: Does not provide a breakdown of its plan, but the emphasis in its manifesto is on "a fair taxation system". It also plans to reverse "savage cuts" imposed in the 2011 Budget.
Green Party: Like its coalition partner Fianna Fail, the Greens' plan comprises "two-thirds expenditure and one-third revenue measures".

And the EU/IMF bail-out:
.
Fianna Fail: Will seek to renegotiate the average interest rate on the loans, currently set at 5.8%.
Fine Gael: Will seek to renegotiate a lower interest rate and "a more credible, fairer package".
Labor: Will seek to renegotiate the deal "to include a jobs strategy, to share the debt burden with bondholders, to reduce the interest rate, and to leave room for Ireland's economy to grow".
Sinn Fein: Does not intend to draw down further from the EU-IMF loan.
Green Party: Makes no explicit reference to renegotiating the rate of interest on the loans.

The first results are expected early on Saturday afternoon. But I will have to wait until Sunday to see how this election pans out!

Broadcasts from London


For some time now, a hard-hitting Sarawak Report, a hitherto anonymous blog has been roundly criticizing Taib Mahmud, Sarawak’s Chief Minister for his corrupt excesses. The purpose is to inform Sarawakians in order that they can vote for change and bring an end to his 30-year rule. And four months ago, there is Radio Free Sarawak with the same agenda. According to the London Evening Standard on February 22, 2011, the initiators of the above have come out in the open to reveal themselves. And the unlikely duo responsible for the London-based radio broadcasts are an investigative reporter named Claire Rewcastle Brown (sister-in-law of former prime minister Gordon Brown) and the proud grandson of a Dayak headhunter using the pseudonym Papa Orang Utan (real name Peter John Jaban).

Rewcastle Brown, 51, born in Sarawak to British parents in the days before the former British colony was handed over to Malaysia, lived in the region until the age of eight, and she is, in fact, the author of the above-mentioned blog that has been getting 18,000 hits a day. Her work, she adds, is about "giving the 2.5 million oppressed people of Sarawak a choice".

"The leader of the (PR) opposition party, a charismatic human rights lawyer called Baru Bian, inspires hope of real change in the upcoming election, but scandalously only one-third of the electorate are registered to vote and the corrupt Malaysian government turn a blind eye because Taib always delivers them Sarawak”, what Malaysian political analysts refer to as Najib Razak’s “fixed deposit”.

Apathy reigns in Sarawak, more so in the rural and semi-rural communities. Whether PR can make significant inroads in the state is uncertain. Said Rewcastle Brown, "People say our man hasn't got a prayer in the election and that Taib will intimidate voters as he always does but I think our reports are having a huge effect and that there's a groundswell for change". I pray she is right – if we can break Taib’s stranglehold on power, Sarawak can have a bright future.

Liverpool's place in the last 16 of the Europa League was assured when Dirk Kuyt guided in a Raul Meireles corner (86). The Reds had finally converted one of their chances to secure a 1-0 win at Anfield over a stubborn Sparta Prague. The former really made hard work of beating the latter 1-0 on aggregate.

Screenwriter David Seidler

Telling the story of the stammering king, George VI, has been a lifetime ambition for screenwriter David Seidler. In fact, Seidler grew up paralyzed by the same impediment he depicts the monarch struggling to overcome in The King’s Speech. Seidler said in an interview: “I had huge trouble with the ‘H’ sound, so when the telephone rang, I would break in a cold sweat, because I couldn’t say hello”.

Yes, David stuttered as a child. "It's not a pleasant experience. Nobody in their right mind would choose to be a stutterer," Seidler said. As a method of education and motivation, Seidler's parents played him audio of King George VI, explaining that if this distinguished royal somebody could overcome his own speech impediment and lead a nation during a time of war that young David could do the same. In fact, he did more than that – Seidler wrote The King’s Speech, about the vocal voyage of the king.

Arsenal beat Stoke 1-0, thanks to defender Sebastien Squillaci who headed home Nicklas Bendtner's cross (8) to put the Gunners ahead. With this win, Arsenal moves to within one point of Manchester United at the top of the EPL table.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The King's Speech


Photo credit: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/jan/06/the-kings-speech-review

Last Sunday, I headed to One Utama to watch the screening of The King’s Speech – a period drama about Colin Firth’s Duke of York, soon to be King George VI, coming to grips with the speech impediment that has rendered public speaking an agonizing embarrassment. Based on real events, it focuses on the emerging friendship between two unlikely men – the introverted stammerer and the spirited speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue).

Overall the movie is a sometimes poignant, often funny, and always intelligent portrait of a standoffish man who found his voice, a reluctant prince who became King. The acting is really splendid. Pay special attention to the opening scene. Firth's face is a despondent picture of distressing discomfort, under his top hat. It is as if his life has been sucked out from him, leaving just an empty shell of a man that is overwhelmed by despairing anguish. It is his first public appearance, required to speak through a microphone to an overflowing crowd at Wembley stadium, and via live radio to the nation. His stammer means patience is grievously tested before anyone can make sense of anything that he is saying, and his subjects can only wince with disquieting awkwardness. For sure, this movie is far more interesting than it sounds. Probably one of the best dramatizations ever made of an episode in history. Director Tom Hooper has given movie-goers an excellent must-watch film. Yes, I enjoyed the show very much.

Election Commission Overlooks

The D’Utama Advanced Toastmasters had their meeting last evening. As soon as I reached the venue, I was requested by the Toastmaster-of-the-Evening, Chan Siew Peng and club president Nancy Liew to deliver a speech because two assignment speakers had withdrawn at the eleventh hour. And so I did it again – I delivered CC speech # 8 Get Comfortable with Visual Aids which was really on the spur-of-the-moment. Since it was a last minute thing, I had to quickly decide on my props – and so I used a laptop and a cell phone. According to Foong Weng Tuck – who was present on both Tuesday (he was the General Evaluator at the Taman Indrahana meeting) and Wednesday (he’s a member of the D’Utama Advanced Toastmasters) – yesterday's speech (i.e. “I Walked Away”) was “better” than my Tuesday speech. I cannot say if I agree with him because although I spoke, I didn't really hear myself speak! I was concentrating hard on my oration.

I lament the fact that after so many elections, the Election Commission has only now decided they need to improve transparency at postal voting centers in military camps by stationing EC officers there. All this while, polling stations in military camps are managed by armed forces personnel (The Sun, February 23, 2011, p 08). Shame on the EC! They have failed in their job when they overlooked this particular predication.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rape Conviction in Congo


Thirty persons converged on IJM Cobra Club to attend the Taman Indrahana Toastmasters meeting yesterday – in spite of a heavy downpour scarcely two hours before the start of the meeting. Of this big group, nineteen were Indrahanians, which tells you of the enthusiastic support members give to their club. I did my final CC speech that evening – and again, it was very much impromptu. I only came up with the speech title (i.e. "The Impossible Dream") barely an hour before the meeting, and even then, I did not manage to flesh out my speech. Still, I soldiered on and managed to win the Best Speaker ribbon. Certainly, I know I could have done better – I always think I can do better – but anyway, I did reasonably well, considering my last-minute, self-inflicted predicament. Oh well… And as always, it was a wonderful meeting. By the way, it was great to see colleague Madeline Tan dropping by to check out what Toastmasters are all about.

Image credit: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/feb/21/congo-rape-trial

In Baraka, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a military court has sentenced Lt Col Mutware Daniel Kibibi to 20 years in jail. He was found guilty of crimes against humanity for sending his troops to attack the population of Fizi on New Year's Day where doctors later treated 62 women who had been raped. One woman testified that Kibibi had raped her for 40 minutes.

Three of Kibibi's officers received the same sentences. Five others got between 10 and 15 years. One was acquitted and another, a minor, will be tried in juvenile court.

The BBC's Thomas Hubert says it is the first conviction of a commanding officer for rape in eastern DR Congo. Humanitarian agencies regularly cite government troops as the largest single group of perpetrators of widespread sexual violence in that country’s Kivu region. The UN recorded some 11,000 rapes in 2010 – the true figure is believed to be much higher. At least, the law caught up with the perpetrators!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Change Beckons in Tunisia & Egypt

Change will not be stopped at the door. Change demanded entry. And so one Tunisian’s self-immolation on December 28, 2010 and fueled by social media, cell phones and young people sparked a violent uprising of angry fellow citizens. After 23 years of iron-fisted rule, Tunisia’s president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was driven from power on January 14.

Image credit: http://www.haaretz.com/news/international/self-immolation-leads-to-massive-protests-in-tunisia-1.334934

Image credit: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/01/14/2583344/ap-topics-hindu-festival-makar.html.
Image credit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/12/tunisia-riots-photos-unem_n_808059.html#s222875&title=Politics_

Image credit: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/01/14/2583344/ap-topics-hindu-festival-makar.html
Image credit: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/africa/110114/tunisia-tunis-riots-protest-africa-egypt-arab

Image credit: http://newshopper.sulekha.com/aptopix-tunisia-riots_photo_1669068.htm

Image credit: http://blogs.sacbee.com/photos/
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Then change knocked on Egypt’s door. When an electronic message first came out that a revolution was being planned for January 25, the Egyptians were skeptical. But people did gather in their thousands and the protests grew so big, so raucous, so unrelenting. What started as a peaceful day with only chants for change, unfolded, into a day, and subsequent ones, with unprecedented widespread brutality at the hands of police and their thugs – until the Army stepped in and took control. As a result of continued popular protest and pressure, Mubarak finally resigned from office, quietly leaving Cairo on February 11.
Image credit: http://news.yahoo.com/nphotos/Anti-government-protests-Egypt/ss/events/wl/012511egyptprotest;_ylt=AhyFQsUzfFhRdt4OAHNHwOgUewgF;_ylu=X3oDMTE3OW44Nm4xBHBvcwMyMwRzZWMDeW5fZmVhdHVyZWQEc2xrA3NsaWRlc2hvd19saQ--#photoViewer=/110204/ids_photos_wl/r206466483.jpg

Image credit: http://news.yahoo.com/nphotos/Anti-government-protests-Egypt/ss/events/wl/012511egyptprotest;_ylt=AhyFQsUzfFhRdt4OAHNHwOgUewgF;_ylu=X3oDMTE3OW44Nm4xBHBvcwMyMwRzZWMDeW5fZmVhdHVyZWQEc2xrA3NsaWRlc2hvd19saQ--#photoViewer=/110204/481/urn_publicid_ap_org62ffa6d348a24f62a111d1ba16d23d0a

Image credit: http://blogs.sacbee.com/photos/

Image credit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/26/egypt-protest-mubarak_n_814423.html#230285

Image credit: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1350459/Egypt-Lebanon-protests-Thousands-clash-police-streets.html

Image credit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12306373, January 28, 2011

Image credit: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1350459/Egypt-Lebanon-protests-Thousands-clash-police-streets.html

And citizens in other countries became emboldened and they too took to the streets. Algeria. Bahrain. Jordan. Libya. Morocco. Yemen. There is genuine anger on the streets. We are witnessing the unleashing of people power. When the fury of a people is so devastating, despots will flee. It will happen. It’s just a question of when. It’s only a matter of time. All I know is that it will be very soon. Change is irrevocable. Change is upon us.

A Farcical Trial

I hardly write about this case because as far as I am concerned, it has been a farce all along. Just to illustrate. The High Court, today, heard that two more unidentified DNA profiles were found on complainant Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan (left), apart from the earlier 3 identified by government chemist Dr Seah Lay Hong.

Yet Saiful who has filed a complaint against Anwar accusing him of sodomizing him on June 26, 2008, did not name anyone else. I can only conclude that this Saiful fella has been very, very naughty! Unless of course, the DNA evidence had been planted – but that would cast incredulity on the integrity of the authorities! I cannot believe that the latter can be so treacherously dishonest as to unscrupulously manipulate evidence just so to put Anwar in prison. That is so Hollywood!

Yeap, the Anwar sodomy 2 trial is becoming bizarre by the day. There are already inconsistencies in the medical examination, missing gaps in the forms and it appears that standard operating procedures were casually ignored. If all of the above are insufficient to throw out the case, then what is?

The Star reported on Monday (p N23) that Sabah Marine Operations Force (MOF) has launched a hunt for the pirates who attacked supply vessels plying the state’s west coast twice in less than a week. State MOF chief Asst Comm Abdul Manaf Othman said all patrol craft were being deployed as part of the special operation codenamed Ops Barracuda. “Our operations are focused on waters between Labuan and Kudat in northern Sabah,” he said yesterday. But what’s the point? The pirates will already have escaped! Somebody’s sleeping on the job again!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Chinese Support for BN

The mainstream press are now insisting that the Chinese will be giving their support to BN. First, the Star on February 18, 2011 (p N 10) had Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin boasting that the Chinese in Sarawak will support BN because of the government’s pro-business policies. Second, the New Straits Times on February 19 gave coverage to the Kedah BN Chairperson Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah who had claimed that the Chinese are backing the BN again based on the community’s acceptance of the 1Malaysia concept initiated by Prime Minister Najib Razak. Wow, I didn’t know that the Chinese are so na├»ve and worse, so stupid! I would be ashamed of being one if they are indeed so easily duped. Anyway, let BN fantasize that they have the Chinese vote in Sarawak and Kedah. We shall see soon enough.

League One side Leyton Orient earned a lucrative trip to the Emirates Stadium with a last-gasp equalizer to secure a 1-1 draw with Arsenal and a FA Cup fifth round replay. The Gunners broke the deadlock only in the 52nd minute, when Tomas Rosicky met Nicklas Bendtner's cross with a neat header that nestled into the bottom corner of the net. Determined Orient fought back and were rewarded when substitute Jonathan Tehoue bulldozed his way through two challenges and buried his shot past Gunner goalie Manuel Almunia (89).

£9,000 Tuition Fees

It seems that Oxford and Cambridge universities as well as London's Imperial College are expected to charge the maximum annual fee of £9,000. They fear setting lower fees may saddle them with a reputation for offering "cut-price" education. So the race to charge full fees has begun. I am sorry for English students – they should really consider studying at Sunway University! I can vouch for Sunway University’s academic standards – after all, I teach there! Besides, Sunway Univeristy is affiliated with UK’s Lancaster University. And Guardian University Guide 2011 ranks the latter at No. 6 (Webpage http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/table/2010/jun/04/university-league-table, posted June 08, 2010). The Independent’s Complete University Guide 2011 puts the English university at No. 8 (Webpage http://worldranking.blogspot.com/2010/05/independent-league-table-2011.html, accessed December 16, 2011). Need I say more?


Celtic took a significant step towards the Scottish Premier League title with a clinical 3-0 win over old rivals, Rangers. Gary Hooper delighted the home fans with the opening goal in 17 minutes, accelerating past David Weir and firing through keeper Allan McGregor's legs. Then Emilio Izaguirre's surging run and delicious cross set up Hooper to fire home from six yards on 28 minutes. And Hooper supplied the pass for Commons who switched the ball from his left to his right, evading Madjid Bougherra, and hit a swerving shot past the wrong-footed McGregor from 22 yards (70). This game was Celtic’s to win since Rangers rarely threatened.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Najib and the Malay Vote

Prime Minister Najib Razak has openly requested Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) students and alumni to remember the good deed of the Barisan Nasional government in nurturing them to become successful citizens. In the New Sunday Times today, he had crowed that the estimated 500,000 UiTM alumni, who now held high positions in the government and private sectors, were products of the university established by his Government (p 04).

I would have thought that if students have succeeded in their education and even careers, it is fitting that we acknowledge their hard work. This is the first time I heard somebody giving congratulations and publicly reminding them that they became successful only because of his political party’s good deed! Is he intimating that without Barisan Nasional, they would be just smallholders, farmers, fishermen and junior assistants? He had stated that they “came from ordinary families, among them smallholders, farmers, fishermen and junior assistants”. The implication is clear: without BN, they are nothing! How patronizing! How insulting! How disparaging! Najib is really desperate to want to secure the Malay vote!

And political analyst Dr Wong Chinn Huat has said that BN will regain their two-thirds majority if they can gain just a 5% Malay swing. In recent by-elections, there was already a seven to ten percent of Malays swinging back to BN (The Malaysian Insider, February 19, 2011). Hmmm, PR needs to buck up!

The Sunday Star (p N4) revealed that within a space of one week, two seaborne vessels were robbed in Malaysian waters. On Thursday, armed men in speed boats intercepted a supply vessel and robbed its crew about 20km from Kota Kinabalu. And on Monday, an offshore supply boat was boarded by robbers about 8.3km from Labuan. If we cannot protect our own territorial waters, what’s the point of telling the world about our exploits in faraway Gulf of Aden – read my posting dated January 31, 2011.

International Maritime Bureau (IMB) piracy reporting center head of Asian region Noel Choong said Somali pirates were using the vessels which they had hijacked to go further from their base. He claimed that these buccaneers were now attacking ships in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of India and Maldives. And these gun-toting pirates now have the capability of reaching Malaysian waters using the bigger and better equipped vessels which they have hijacked. This may be conjecture at this stage but as Choong told the Sunday Star (ibid), “Two years ago, nobody would have predicted that they would reach India. It is hard to believe they would reach the Straits of Malacca, but it is possible”. Scary thought, isn’t it? The pirates of Somalia will become bolder and more daring.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Greedy Tony

Didn’t I say Tony Fernandes is a money-grubbing opportunist? In the New Straits Times today, it was revealed that Team Lotus (formerly known as 1Malaysia Racing Team or 1MRT) last year had demanded between £22 million and £37 million as settlement (p 12). As Proton Group managing director Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohd Tahir said “1MRT cannot demand for us to compensate them for a problem which (they) got (themselves) into”. He explained that “(They) entered into a relationship with Team Lotus Ventures with full prior knowledge that Group Lotus is already in a long standing legal dispute with Team Lotus Ventures”. He further emphasized, “Proton and Group Lotus cannot be made liable for 1MRT’s commercial misadventure”. So we will just have to wait for the court hearing.

China has overtaken Japan as the world’s second largest economy with gross GDP of $5.88 trillion (RM18 trilllion) in 2010 – as compared to Japan’s $5.47 trillion (RM16.7trillion). China’s fast rise at an average annual growth rate of 10% over the last twenty years means that if the country continues to maintain this expansionary momentum, it can even dethrone the United States in ten years.

Despite this achievement, Chinese leaders want the country to slow down and to take another look at the bigger goal of economic transformation. The Chinese Commerce Ministry has stressed that China is still far from being the world’s second strongest economic powerhouse as its per capita GDP for 2010 – at about $4,000 (RM12,190) – ranks it only No. 93 in the world. The more important goal is to become a high-income nation.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Gerakan Don't Mean Anything

Gerakan was defending their low registration of voters by claiming that numbers “don’t mean anything”. And in the process of admission by their Youth chief, Lim Si Pin, he had acknowledged that they do not have a strong grassroots presence in KL. He was responding to a report in a local daily on Wednesday that Gerakan could only register 36 new voters last year – the lowest among the main political parties in the country.(New Straits Times, February 18, 2011, p 11).

I shouldn’t be quick to blame Gerakan because they don’t mean anything to Malaysians anymore. And since when have they been promoted to a “main” political party? Let’s not exaggerate when reporting the news. Aiyo, I just remembered that I am supposed to stop writing about Gerakan because they don’t amount to anything!

Malaysians, have you registered already? if you haven't, please do so immediately!

I read that the match between Liverpool and Sparta was a drab affair, and indeed so, as the final score showed 0-0. The Reds started well, and dominated the game but they couldn’t create any clear chances. Still, they remain well placed for the Europa League’s last 16.

Cussing Teacher

Here’s a true story of a high school English teacher, 30-year-old Natalie Munroe in suburban Philadelphia who found herself in hot soup because of a profanity-laced blog in which she described her young charges "disengaged, lazy whiners". Her school, Central Bucks East High School wasn’t at all impressed and so she was suspended. The blog has since been taken down but its contents can still be found easily online.

"My students are out of control," Munroe, who has taught 10th, 11th and 12th grades, wrote in one post dated October 27, 2009. "They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners. They curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire, and are just generally annoying". And in another post, Munroe writes: "Kids! They are disobedient, disrespectful oafs. Noisy, crazy, sloppy, lazy LOAFERS". She also comes up with a colorful list of comments that she felt should be available on student report cards.

Certainly, her comments were provocative in-your-face type – generous, explicit and plainspoken. Therefore, it is not surprising if there are online commentators who applaud her for taking a tough love approach. And at the same time, there will also be those who excoriate her for verbal abuse. Media attention has rained down, and backers have even started a Facebook group. If you were in her shoes, what would you have done and said?

As for me, I believe in providing my students with a supportive environment. No student is hopeless unless I have given up hope on them. But I can’t and I won’t because I have been entrusted to lavish hope on them. That is my job and I do not intend to be a cop-out. Didn’t Ignacio Estrada once said: "If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn”.