Saturday, June 24, 2017

An Emergency in the Making

Mahathir Mohamad (left) warned that the BN government will declare emergency and suspend Parliament should it lose marginally at the coming polls, i.e. GE14.
“The government will refuse to admit defeat. The opposition would be accused of cheating. No evidence would be needed for the government to declare this. The bullies of the BN will be ready to create instability”, the PPBM chairperson and former prime minister had written in his blog on Thursday.
He said the measures would include the setting up of a National Operations Council, similar to the emergency-era “Mageran” council following the 1969 race riots.
“At that stage the BN may offer monetary incentives to opposition MPs to cross over. Once the BN gains a sufficient majority, the emergency would be lifted and the BN would form a majority government”, said Mahathir.
The next general election must be held by the middle of next year. Mahathir signaled “worse” abuses in the 14th general election will occur compared to the ones listed by electoral reforms group Bersih 2.0 in the 2013 national polls.
I am sure there will be the usual shenanigans from Najib and company. And don't discount new surprises too.
Outgoing Area B3 Director Vicente Banaag Jr and I
Incoming Area B1 Director Kingston Lee, Area B3 Director Francis Sales and I
Yesterday, I was at Level 2, Wisma LYL in Petaling Jaya for the Standard Chartered GBS (previously called Scope) Toastmasters Club’s installation of the 2017-2018 exco. 
I was one of only 2 external guests invited  the other was Dr Thilla from Money Mastery Toastmasters Club. 

Anyway, I am deeply honored.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Bashful Berguen/Bravuogn

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A Swiss community has introduced a bylaw banning tourists from taking selfies, Instagram pics and photos in general in a brash marketing ploy that claims the ban is for everyone’s own good. This was announced on May 30, 2017 by the local tourist office.
The scenic village of Berguen/Bravuogn, which has a German/Romansh double name – is located about an hour away from St Moritz, the well-publicized alpine resort – visitors who dare to pull out their camera or smartphone to snap photos of the quaint alpine village, mountain peaks and verdant valley floor, face fines of CHF5 (RM22), for violating the new law.
It is common knowledge that social media can stir feelings of jealousy, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), and depression among users, officials say, particularly when scrolling through photos of stunning travel destinations – much like their quaint Swiss village.
“The municipality of Berguen/Bravuogn is beautiful. We don’t want to make the people outside of the community seeing photos of our picturesque landscape divided over social media and be unhappy, and so we invite them to visit and experience Berguen themselves”, said Peter Nicolay, the No. 1 man in a statement.
In addition to scrubbing their own social media accounts of photos that shamelessly showcase the village in all its natural beauty, the local residents came together and made a plea to NASA on Facebook, asking the space agency to delete or blur satellite photos that inadvertently – and unavoidably – capture its pictorial charm.
“Dear NASA, we are a small municipality in Graubuenden, Switzerland”, Nicolay said in a video message.
“We have discovered that pictures of our beautiful village are being shared on social media making other people unhappy because they cannot be here.
That’s why we have officially forbidden photography here, because we want everyone to be happy”.
Bergün/Bravuogn has some 700 inhabitants. The 67 kilometer Albula Railway which crosses the village has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2008.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Jamal Yunos Too Has Jewelry Worth RM120 Million

Najib Razak’s court jester is at it again!
With the US Department of Justice having filed a civil lawsuit seeking to recover $540 million in assets believed to have been bought with stolen 1MDB money – Red shirt leader Jamal Yunos yesterday pulled off another stunt.
He called a press conference and proudly showed off a necklace and ring – and claiming the jewelry pieces were valued at RM120 million. He even expressed the hope of auctioning them soon.
Jamal told the media: “If the DoJ wants to look for me, then this gives me an opportunity to travel to the United States”.
He scolded the opposition for being so gullible as to easily believe the DoJ claim that 1MDB funds were used to buy a 22-carat pink diamond pendant and necklace, worth $27.3 million for the wife of “Malaysian Official 1”.
Jamal said the claims by DoJ were targeted at Prime Minister Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor.
In any case, the DoJ’s 251-page document did not name either Najib or Rosmah, or seek court approval to seize the jewelry. So, what gives?
If we are to believe Jamal and the other Najib apologists, then the Americans are merely trying to stir trouble for our dear PM and wife.
Malaysians shouldn’t tolerate this!
Let’s hope that MO1 will summon the US ambassador to protest the lies perpetuated by the DoJ or instruct the PMO to file a countersuit against the federal executive department of the US government.
Or better still, get the Red Shirts to organize a thousand-only rally with placards denouncing American meddling – and if the MO1 can be a wee bit more generous, the assembled demonstrators can even buy an American flag for them to trample on and afterwards, burn.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Gal Gadot's Itsy-bitsy Income

Oh, the Gal Gadot-starring/Patty Jenkins-directed action spectacular had on June 16, 2017 already earned $517 million worldwide.
There’s no doubt Wonder Woman is the feminist superhero movie the world didn’t know it needed.
So, why did Wonder Woman herself only earn $300,000?
Compared to how much the film has made, it's an itsy-bitsy drop in the vast ocean.
While Gadot's pay cheque is reportedly on par with what Chris Evans took home for his first appearance in Captain America, it's also considerably less than many of our other favorite comic book characters when they too were making their start in their respective franchises.
Henry Cavill (Superman, Man of Steel), Christian Bale (Batman, Batman Begins) and Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) all reportedly earned between $9-40 million for their superhero performances.
Sure, Gadot was an unknown quantity. But can we please have more faith in the power of strong and authentic female characters, and the professional actors who bring them to life?
Yes, $300,000 is very much humongous by my standards – of course lah, I am almost destitute! – but really, she deserved more. Lots more.
I was at the Gamuda Toastmasters meeting today in Damansara Perdana, PJ where I was offered a speaking slot. I was advised just a day before.  
Nonetheless, I delivered a CC#3 titled “You Will Never Know”.  And I was the sole speaker.

And yes, it was a good meeting!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Warning from Rosmah Mansor on Slander

Law firm Messrs Noorhajran Mohd Noor acting for Rosmah Mansor on Saturday warned that they are “monitoring social media and all forms of publications” because of vicious volleys of venomous vengefulness that had been directed against the latter.
Those who do so would face legal action without further notices or references, they threatened.
“These attacks are false allegations made without any proof or basis, done with malice with the sole intent of putting Rosmah in disrepute, casting aspersions of alleged wrongdoings and causing harm and injury to her reputation”.
Mahathir Mohamad challenged the prime minister’s wife to carry out her threat of taking her accusers to court. In a short video clip posted on his Facebook page yesterday said: “Rosmah says she wants to hunt down those who slander her, and I do not fear because this is not slander. Courage for truth”.
Mahathir added: "If you are brave, sue us. I am prepared”.
Lawyers say the threat is unlikely to result in any real legal action, such as a defamation suit, due to the legal work entailed and the fact that the wife of the prime minister would likely be called to testify as well.
"It seems they're doing it to scare people from commenting on her. It's a practice to intimidate others", said Eric Paulsen, executive director of Lawyers for Liberty.
Paulsen said blogs and social media users should not be targeted as they are not the originators of information regarding 1MDB.
Litigation lawyer Siti Kasim said individuals or publications would only be liable if they made subjective claims that cannot be proven in court.
"If there are claims that she has spent money lavishly from 1MDB, it's a different story. But even then, if she sues over the fact that she's not the recipient of money linked to 1MDB, (her lawyers) will have come out with proof that she wasn't".
Siti, who is also a vocal human rights activist, added there no longer appears to be any legal issues in naming Rosmah as the wife of MO1.
"A minister has publicly confirmed that MO1 is the prime minister and so by implication, she (Rosmah) is the wife of the prime minister. I'm not sure how's she going to disprove that", Siti said.
Last September Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Rahman Dahlan said in an interview with the BBC that MO1, as named by the US Department of Justice was none other than PM Najib Razak.
"I've said it openly. Obviously, if you read the documents, it is the prime minister", the BBC quoted him as saying in an article titled "Who is Malaysian Official 1? Case closed".
We know Najib has not denied this.
Besides, what is wrong in discussing matters of public interest?
It is important to acknowledge that the DoJ allegations relate to public funds and the conduct of governmental officials including MO1. Therefore, nobody should try to stifle free expression.

And Najib, can you please come out from under the bed? You can’t hide forever!

Monday, June 19, 2017

1MDB: The Elephant in the Room

The US Department of Justice on Thursday filed a set of civil forfeiture suits involving 1MDB – aiming to seize an additional $540 million in allegedly ill-gotten assets – and bringing the total sum sought to $1.7 billion.
The court papers revealed that some of the stolen money was used to buy a $27.3 million Lorraine Schwartz’s pink diamond necklace for PM Najib Razak’s wife and a 300-foot luxury yacht called The Equanimity that comes with a helicopter pad and movie theater for billionaire Jho Low as well as properties and rare memorabilia for Najib’s step-son Riza Aziz

The pilfered wealth was also used to buy the Picasso paining ‘Nature Morte au Crane de Taureau’, which was later given to actor Leonardo DiCaprio as a birthday gift.
And additional funds were used to underwrite Hollywood films – including ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ and the Jim Carrey movie ‘Dumb and Dumber To’.
Red Granite Pictures, which financed both of those films and was founded by Najib’s stepson, are currently in settlement talks.
The doubters and the naysayers should read the whole DoJ document and discover for themselves that rapacious greed is alive and well. Pay particular attention to pp 99-100, p 115, p 224 and p 228.
As Marina Mahathir says it’s amazing how many times huge transfers of money are explained as ‘gifts’ with exactly the same words each time.
Still, denials stubbornly persist.
1MDB said on Friday that they are not a party to the civil lawsuit and have never been contacted in relation to the case.
Malaysia’s Attorney-General’s Chambers reaffirmed that there was no evidence of misappropriation of 1MDB funds, nor have there been any criminal charges against anyone over the matter.
UMNO minister Salleh Said Keruak even suggested the opposition had colluded with DoJ in the said filing and described it as an act of treason.
1MDB are back in the limelight.
Wouldn't it be better if Najib step forward and confess? 
You simply cannot hide the elephant in the room!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Wonder Woman Anecdotes

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Wonder Woman has been smashing the box office in true Diana Prince fashion, and director Patty Jenkins posted about how it's positively affecting young children.  

On June 12, 2017, on Twitter, Jenkins (left) shared a note her producer sent her about how a group of kindergarten students reacted to the superhero film within a week of its release.
The note detailed a catalog of anecdotes from both female and male students who enjoyed the blockbuster.
The note says the author works at a kindergarten. Since the writer has not come forward publicly yet, the stories are not verified.

Still, they do go a long way in illustrating how important it is for children to see strong, intelligent, powerful women lead films, particularly in the superhero universe so often dominated by men.
Here's that listing:
On Monday, a boy who was obsessed with Iron Man, told me he had asked his parents for a new Wonder Woman lunchbox.
A little girl said "When I grow up I want to speak hundreds of languages like Diana".
This girl had her parents revamp her Beauty and the Beast birthday party in THREE DAYS because she simply had to have a Wonder Woman party.
Seven girls playing together during recess on Tuesday, saying that since they all wanted to be Wonder Woman they had agreed to be Amazons and not fight but work together to defeat evil.
There is this one girl that refuses to listen to you unless you address her as Wonder Woman.
Another girl very seriously asked the teacher if she could ditch her uniform for the Wonder Woman armor bc she 'wanted to be ready if she needed to save the world.' The teacher laughed and said it was okay, and the next day the girl came dressed as Wonder Woman and not a single kid batted an eye.
They are making a wrap-up dance show, and they asked the teacher if they could come as superheroes, they are going to sing a song about bunnies.
This kid got angry and threw a plastic car over his head and a girl gasped 'LIKE IN THE MOVIE'.
A boy threw his candy wrapping in the floor and a 5-year-old girl screamed 'DON'T POLLUTE YOU IDIOT, THAT IS WHY THERE ARE NO MEN IN T[H]EMYSCIRA'.
On Wednesday, a girl came with a printed list of every single female superhero and her powers, to avoid any trouble when deciding roles at recess.
I was talking to one of the girls that hadn't seen the movie, and the next day she came and very seriously told me "you were right, Wonder Woman was way better than Frozen".
"ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE! This makes every hard day worth it", wrote Jenkins. "Thank you to whomever wrote it!!" Wow!!!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

DAP Penang's Addiction to Host Dinners

Penang UMNO chief Zainal Abidin Osman had on Wednesday, made the outrageous claim that Penang DAP host dinners “pretty much every night”.
Without batting an eyelid, he continued: “These functions cost money and the public wants to know the source of the money”. His obnoxious side had started to show.
As if that was not enough, he decided to become offensive. “Penang UMNO hopes that dirty money is not involved”, Zainal was quoted as saying.
The next day, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng (left)declared that Zainal’s claim was “fitnah” (defamation) as DAP had only held three dinners to date.
And he retorted: “We don’t have donations from Saudi Arabia, hence we sell tickets at fundraising dinners”.
Then he made a wish. “…we hope we can get donations like (the ones) Saudi Arabians (gave out) lah” – in an apparent reference to the RM2.6 billion donation from the Saudi royal family which was deposited into Prime Minister Najib Razak’s bank account.

On a lighter note, state DAP chairperson Chow Kon Yeow said it was true that DAP politicians had dinners, but in the truest sense of the word.
“Most of us attend dinners every night. We are sometimes invited to association dinners. If not, we eat dinner at home lah”, Chow clarified.
Lim couldn’t resist adding: “I also go for dinners every night, buka puasa, temple dinners and others, but not DAP dinners every night!”
All this talk about dinners is making me hungry. Supper, anyone?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Remember the Dictator

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Cartoonist Fahmi Reza (above) brought back his clown caricature – but this time featuring Mahathir Mohamad on his Facebook page on Thursday with the hashtag #RespectMyDictator.
This was the outcome of the disturbing news that the PKR political bureau had agreed to the former prime minister assuming the chairpersonship of the Pakatan Harapan pro tem committee. Sources told The Malaysian Insight the decision was reached on Wednesday.
A PKR political bureau source had shared that they accepted Mahathir because they believe it will enhance their prospects of capturing Putrajaya in the next elections.
PKR’s Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail will be relegated to the position of president and Anwar Ibrahim will be nothing more than a PH advisor.
The Malaysian Insight revealed that Amanah president Mohamad Sabu, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin and PKR deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali will be PH deputy presidents.
Of course, a denial was issued a day later. But it has already riled me up.
In fact, last week, Bersatu had high-handedly proposed that their chairperson Mahathir and president Muhyiddin Yassin be appointed PH’s chairperson and president respectively. WTF?!
The sheer arrogance of this political party made up of UMNO discards is telling me point-blank that they are obnoxiously despicable. Scurrilously insolent. Scandalously shameless.
Furthermore, they only officially joined PH in March this year. I would rather they just eff off!
If indeed, Mahathir gets chosen to be PH's No. 1 – I will tear my voting slip at the polling booth in protest.

Why should I vote for the guy who got us into this mess in the first place?
I’m already pissed off with the guy who’s continuing to mess things up.
For sure, I am galled, outraged and displeased. Don’t make me any angrier!

As for PKR and their allies, stop being wishy-washy. Stop your pussyfooting and show us that you deserve our votes!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

An Ego Fest


Donald Trump is reinventing the Cabinet meeting.
The public portion of these assemblies of all of the president's key advisers are usually staid affairs. Photographers are present to take pictures. The president makes a terse statement. And that’s it.
But Trump decided to do something very different in his own Cabinet meeting on June 12. And in front of TV cameras. It turned into an ego fest.
First, the US President highlighted the supposed successes of his first 143 days and made a super smashing claim: "Never has there been a president…with few exceptions...who's passed more legislation, who's done more things than I have".
Then, his top officials took turns – all of them aware the media was listening – to heap bucketful of praises onto the President.
“We thank you for the opportunity and blessing to serve your agenda,” White House chief of staff Reince Priebus gushed.
Tom Price, the Secretary of Health and Human Services proclaimed that it was “an honor” to head the department under Trump’s leadership.
“I can't thank you enough for the privileges you've given me and the leadership that you’ve shown”, Price raved.

And his vice president Mike Pence announced that serving as Trump's number two is "the greatest privilege of my life".
It is noteworthy to mention that despite Trump having signed a series of executive orders – one of them, a travel ban, has been placed on hold by the courts – Congress have yet to pass any of the major proposals he had campaigned as a presidential candidate.
And still, his cabinet members enthusiastically spoke up, trumpeting that they had performed wonders and raining grateful adulations on Trump.

Shortly after the spectacle was aired, the Gallup organization released their updated tracking poll of how Americans view their president's performance. He is fighting from a deep hole: 36 percent approve his handling of the job, 59 percent disapprove!
The Malaysian cabinet under PM Najib Razak is no different. They too love to dole out plaudits and shower flattery.
These two characters are indeed self-seeking, self-absorbed and self-centered.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wonder Woman: The Movie

Wonder Woman was a cinematic experience that is just amazing! The box office receipts provide additional ample proof. If you don't believe me, that is.

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I certainly enjoyed the movie. Still, I won’t have a write-up about this film because I didn’t have that intention when I stepped into the cinema.
I only wanted to revel in the epic blockbuster. And I loved it. Immensely.
There are only two words to describe Wonder Woman. Epic awesomeness! And I’m referring to both the actor and the movie.
There’s no doubt about it – Gal Gadot is every inch the movie star.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Wonder Woman Wows Audiences except in Lebanon, Algeria, Jordan and Tunisia

“Wonder Woman” starring Israeli actress Gal Gadot, is wowing audiences everywhere and shattering box office records in the US of A and elsewhere.
But the film isn’t getting as warm a reception from some countries due to Gadot’s Israeli heritage. Lebanon was not the only country to ban the film last week.
Wonder Woman had been dumped from the Nuits du Cinéma film festival in Algeria.
Jordan banned a screening of Wonder Woman, warning domestic theaters not to show the film until and unless an official government decision is made to permit its screening.
And according to The Jerusalem Post, the Tunisian Association of Young Lawyers had filed a lawsuit, labeling Gadot a “champion Zionist". The suit reportedly led to the suspension of the summer blockbuster, which was set to hit theaters on Thursday.
While these countries referenced the reasoning being that Gadot is from Israel, they haven't been successful in banning any of her past films, including "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" and "The Fast and Furious" franchise.
Movies that starred Israeli-born actress Natalie Portman also have had no problem screening in Arab nations, according to The Atlantic.
The 1959 original version of "Ben-Hur" was banned by all Arab League states because lead actress Haya Harareet was an Israeli. "Exodus" (1960) was banned in Syria and Egypt, along with all of Paul Newman's other films, because of the actor's support of Zionism and Israel. Jordan banned the films of Danny Kaye and Elizabeth Taylor in the 1950s and early 1960s because Kaye contributed money to Zionism and Taylor was labeled a "Zionist agent" – the same term similarly used to describe Gadot.
[Note: Zionism is defined as a Jewish nationalist movement, which goal is to form a Jewish National state in the ancient homeland of the Jews, Palestine].
These countries won’t know what they’re missing. Oh well, we will just keep Gal Gadot to ourselves.
The $150 million-budgeted superhero epic earned $205 million in the US and its overseas cume amounted to $230.2 million – that’s $435.2 million worldwide in just under two weeks of play. So yeah, it's officially a super hit!
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The annual Pride Parade was replaced with a Resist March as tens of thousands of people marched in Washington, Los Angeles and other US cities yesterday for LGBT rights.

Many of those attending said they felt their community was under threat from the Donald Trump administration.

They should know they're not the only ones.