Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Kimora Lee Simmons and 1MDB

Model and fashion designer Kimora Lee Simmons (right) denied that money illegally channeled from 1MDB helped finance her company.
 
The Los Angeles Times reported that Kimora had taken issue with The New York Post’s report last Thursday linking her signature fashion line to the FBI’s investigation into 1MDB funds.
 
In case you didn’t know, Kimora is married to Tim Leissner, the former senior banker for Goldman Sachs in Asia who managed 1MDB transactions which are now under scrutiny by law enforcement agencies in a number of countries.
 
The New York Post’s page 6 had alleged that it “widely believed” that Leissner financed the launch of the Kimora Lee Simmons brand.
 
Kimora told the LA Times: “I’ve been around for quite some time. I’m an old lady so I’ve always been self-sustaining, self-funded”.
 
She added: “I fund my own business...I’ve been in the fashion industry since [age] 12, modeling and all that”.
 
Her admission reminds me of PM Najib Razak’s wife, Rosmah Mansor. She too had previously claimed that she saved up since very young to buy the ring (right) that was worth only RM24 million. Yeah right!
 
The New York Post story comes on the heels of a Bloomberg report on April 28 that US prosecutors are probing Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s role in raising almost $6 billion for Malaysia’s 1MDB investment fund in 2012 and 2013, when Leissner led the bank’s efforts in Southeast Asia. They earned $593 million, or 9% – many times the industry average for underwriting risky bonds.
 
Following an internal company probe, Goldman put Leissner on administrative leave in early 2016, but he resigned shortly after.
 
As Voltaire said: “When it is a question of money, everybody is of the same religion”.
 
After all, extravagant lifestyles cost a lot of money. If you don’t believe me, ask Kimora. Or Rosmah.

Introducing Toastmasters' Pathways. Starts May 29, 2017 in District 51:


 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

UMNO's Trickery

PAS vice-president Idris Haji Ahmad (left) was right to allege that UMNO were merely using the hudud issue as political fodder ahead of GE14.
 
“UMNO (have) no stand. If you want to do it, you should just do it”, he insisted on Monday. 
 
He said this in reference to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia, an UMNO member and former BN minister, who on the final day of the Dewan Rakyat sitting on April 06, 2017 deferred the debate over Hadi’s Private Member’s bill (Act 355) until Parliament reconvenes on July 24.
 
And yet, his party president Abdul Hadi Awang still believe UMNO are supportive of PAS’ Islamic aspirations – methinks, he had been seduced by the cloying sweet words of UMNO president Najib Razak – so much so that he does not seem to think that UMNO’s deferment of his bill is an act of betrayal.
 
Idris had to respond to a statement on Saturday by Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman, that the state was not prepared to implement hudud law until an in-depth study on it was conducted first.
 
Razif who is also Terengganu UMNO chairperson had also said the decision to implement hudud must be determined by the state assembly and only after getting the consent of the Sultan of Terengganu.
 
This declaration contradicted the assertion by the state’s telecommunications, multimedia and special tasks executive councillor, Ghazali Taib, who a day earlier had claimed that Terengganu would continue to fight for the implementation of Islamic law in the state.
 
Ghazali reportedly said Terengganu would even make Aceh a model for hudud implementation if it was applied in the state.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A woman is caned after being caught in proximity with her boyfriend in Bandar Aceh. Picture from The Australian, February 16, 2017
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Murni Amris caned for selling food during the fasting month on October 01, 2010. In Bandar Aceh. Image via Jakarta Globe
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
One of the two men being whipped after being nabbed for cockfighting. In the city of Jantho, Aceh. They were identified as Alem bin Suhadi, 57, and Amel bin Akim, 60, both ethnic Chinese and members of the Buddhist minority. AFP photo
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Aceh youths reacting to a public caning on November 06, 2015. Image via AP
 
Idris was smart enough to know better  that the above statements revealed the true nature of UMNO.
 
“That’s UMNO. That’s their attitude. When are they going to be ready anyway?” he retorted. 

Playing games. Flip-flopping. UMNO’s trickery is notoriously well-known.

But to be honest, it is both UMNO and PAS that are exploiting religion to suit their own respective political agendas.

In the Scottish Cup final between Celtic and Aberdeen on Saturday, the former beat the Dons 2-1. And Celtic became the first Scottish side to complete an unbeaten domestic treble.

Celtic fell behind to a Johnny Hayes goal in the ninth minute, but Stuart Armstrong squared it two minutes later with a 20-yard strike. And they won the match with a stoppage-time goal (90+2) from Tom Rogic.

I can just imagine Glasgow to be a sea of green and white.

 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Intolerance Thrives in Malaysia













Malaysian police blurred faces in this photo showing officers arresting a suspected IS supporter at an undisclosed location. Photo courtesy of the Royal Malaysian Police @ http://www.benarnews.org/english/news/malaysian/police-raids-03242017150905.html

The Islamic State ideology represents extreme intolerance, embracing brutal savagery and deliberate murder. And it is pure evil.

What is frightening is the fact that the arrest of Malaysians with IS affiliations is becoming more frequent. And more numerous.
 
Since 2013, Malaysian authorities have arrested 294 people with suspected IS links, of whom 66 have since been freed, according to the latest figures obtained by BenarNews on March 24, 2017. This precludes additional arrests in April and May.












Soldiers patrol the streets of Marawi as the Filipino army moves in to free the city from the murderous clutches of IS-linked fighters, May 25, 2017. Photo credit: Jeoffrey Maitem/BenarNews

We seem to even get involved in the Marawi siege in the Philippines by IS-linked militants. Malaysians are fighting alongside the local terror groups Maute and Abu Sayyaf. As well as combatants from Indonesia and Singapore – all providing back-up firepower to the hostiles in the Mindanao conflict.
 
In fact, the fierce gun battles had forced Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to place the whole of Mindanao under martial law.
 
The Star on Friday had quoted intelligence sources as saying the Malaysians killed in the battles had been identified as Ustaz Abdurahman Asmawi, from Kelantan and Dr Kamsa Yahya from Kedah.
 
But Bukit Aman Special Branch director Mohamad Fuzi Harun said “We cannot confirm (the identities of) those who were killed as there are a number of people (Malaysians) over there”.

Reports indicated at least five Malaysians are believed to be in Marawi City Malaysian police seem to suggest.

In fact, Sunday Mail yesterday had cited a Manila-based intelligence official as saying: “Intelligence from ground operatives disclosed 28 Malaysians arrived in Marawi early last week for a 'religious' event. We suspect there must be more who arrived separately”.
 
The Coverage on December 11, 2015 had published a Pew Research Center study that claimed that over one in ten Malaysians hold favorable views of the IS despite the horrendous violence committed.
 
The findings come at a time when Malaysia is grappling with the spread of IS ideology among the local populace.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In the study of Muslims’ attitude towards IS, which the Pew Research Centre gleaned from its 2015 Global Attitudes survey, support level for the group in Malaysia was tied in second place with Senegal among 11 nations with significant Muslim populations polled.
 
It’s not just the IS whom we should be worried about.
 
The Red Shirts and many so-called Muslim NGOs that are spewing hatred and creating a dangerously volatile situation is already alarming many non-Muslims.
 
The call by Jaringan Muslimin Pulau Pinang chairperson Mohd Hafiz Noordin to Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng forbidding him to attend “buka puasa” (breaking of fast) events unless he converts to Islam is belligerently bigoted as it is peculiarly preposterous.
 
I am not saying Islam is the enemy. But a perversion of Islam is.
 
It conceives intolerance. And intolerance is becoming the curse of our country.
 
Still, I am not giving up hope.
 
As American stand-up comedian, writer, actor and voice artist, Patton Oswalt had said: “So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, 'The good outnumber you, and we always will'”.
 
And I am consoled. For now, at least.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Gross National Happiness

Gross National Happiness (GNH) is a development philosophy as well as an index which is used to measure the collective happiness of a nation. 

In 1979, the then King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck (right) himself had declared that “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product”.
 
With that pronouncement, he challenged the conventional and materialistic notions of human progress.
 
Listen to the TED Talk by Bhutan’s Prime Minister, Tshering Tobgay on GNH:



The concept is indigenous to Bhutan, and was enshrined in the country’s 2008 constitution which states that “the State shall strive to promote those conditions that will enable the pursuit of Gross National Happiness”.
 
Malaysia should learn from this country. But then, we are too proud to learn from this tiny kingdom that is sandwiched between China and India.

 
 














This is so very true!

I received good news on Friday. Kementerian Sumber Malaysia and HRDF informed me that I am exempted from attending PSMB TRAIN THE TRAINER. Certificate No. 4976.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Symbol of Justice No More













The sculpture personifying justice that was removed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Credit Abir Abdullah/European Pressphoto Agency 

Bangladeshi authorities in the predawn hours on Friday swiftly and quietly removed a statue, supposedly that of the goddess of justice – after angry protests from hardline Islamists.
 
Protestors had issued an ultimatum for its eviction from the Supreme Court complex in Dhaka by May 26, 2017.
 
The two-and-a-half-ton stainless-steel sculpture, was commissioned by the court and erected, at a cost of about $22,000, only five months ago.
 
Last month, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, signaled that she agreed with the protestors – describing it as a depiction of Themis, the Greek goddess, who is traditionally seen blindfolded and carrying scales and a sword.
 
Mrinal Haque, the sculptor, denied that the statue represented the Greek goddess.
 
Still, protestors claimed it hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims and they had long asserted that the figure amounted to idolatry.
 
The statue became a proxy for simmering tension between proponents of secularism, which is enshrined in Bangladesh’s Constitution, and those favoring Islamic conservatism. By the look of things, the latter is set to take over the country.
 
Note: About 90 percent of Bangladesh’s citizens are Muslim, with a steadily shrinking Hindu minority and small groups of Christians and Buddhists.
 
Oasis inspired a woman to break out in song at a memorial for the bombing victims that took place in Manchester, UK on May 22, 2017.
 
Thursday’s impromptu rendition of Oasis' "Don't Look Back in Anger" was a tribute to victims of the terrorist attack and the heart-warming moment was captured in a video by The Guardian.
 
A moment of silence at the city’s St. Ann's Square was broken by Lydia Bernsmeier-Rullow who began singing as she cradled a bouquet of flowers. A few amongst the crowd joined her, but by the time she got to the chorus of the Oasis' hit song, most of those present were singing along.
 
Bernsmeier-Rullow, speaking to The Guardian after the incident said: "'Don't look back in anger' – that's what this is about. We can't be looking backward to what happened, we have to look forwards to the future… We're all going to join together, we're all going to get on with it because that's what Manchester does".
 
And here’s that 1995 song from Oasis:
 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Poems by JR Tolkien

I am a fan of JR Tolkien.
 
If that doesn’t ring a bell, then I’m sure you know of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit?
 
Epic movies – if you are not familiar with his books, that is.

But he wrote poems too – listen to Clamavi De Profundis sing two of them:
 
 
It was an oppressive afternoon. The temperature was a 91 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity was 58%. I was being baked in the hot sun.
 
In the end, the sweltering heat forced me into an A&W outlet in USJ 10/1A in USJ Subang Jaya for a refreshing Root Beer Float.

Yes-s-s!!!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A regular RB Float @ RM5.95.
 
In Malaysia, they refer to it as RB instead of Root Beer because the word 'beer' is "haram". LOL! Only in Malaysia.  

Work-life Balance is a Myth

Malaysian employers, together with their counterparts in Singapore and Hong Kong, are ignoring the importance of work-life balance – this conclusion came from a study by recruitment firm Randstad.
 
Based on this year’s Randstad Employer Brand Research, the significance of work-life balance has continued to rise to become one of the most important attractiveness factors in the above-mentioned countries.
 
Employers in all three markets performed “so poorly in the aspect of work-life balance that the factor ended close to the bottom of the ranking”, Randstad pointed out yesterday.
 
Financial health and good reputation are ranked the highest for employers.
 
But to potential employees, a company’s financial health is considered “fairly important”, although good reputation is not much of a priority.
 
This, according to Randstad, further highlighted the expectation gap between employers and employees.
 
A gap in expectations of a pleasant work atmosphere was also found between employees and employers. The attractiveness factor ranked fairly highly among employees.
 
However, employers scored poorly in this area – just one position higher than work-life balance – the study revealed.
 
Randstad Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia managing director Michael Smith reiterated: “It’s widely known that work-life balance has become highly important for employees of all demographics. Our research just reaffirmed and measured that attribute”.
 
Smith added: “The stakes are high for these organizations. By not addressing the evolving wants and needs of employees, they risk losing the very talent that helped them build their strong reputations and financial health”.
 
I don’t believe most companies care enough about work-life balance. It's just a myth.

And sad to say, most of us are slaves to our jobs too.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Soldiers on UK Streets












British troops take on duties to guard high profile buildings. Photo credit: Eddie Mulholland for The Telegraph

Terror attacks are becoming almost routine – these have occurred in major cities around the world: Berlin, Brussels, Cairo, Istanbul, Jakarta, London, Paris, Stockholm. A long list. 
 
And the latest is Manchester, UK on Monday night.
 
A suicide bomber had targeted the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena. Twenty-two people died in addition to the man responsible for the attack. And fifty-nine other concert goers were injured.
 
By Wednesday, almost one thousand soldiers were deployed on UK streets.
 
This is Operation Temperer – the government plan to put thousands of soldiers on the streets in response to a major terrorist threat. [Note: It was devised in 2015 and had been a secret until it was accidentally leaked to a newspaper].
 
A terror attack in the UK has been highly likely since August 2014. Now the country has been put on ‘critical’ alert – meaning an attack is expected imminently.
 
Prime Minister Theresa May (left) made the bold decision to deploy up to 5,000 armed troops to guard key strategic sites – in a resolute show of force.
 
This put May at odds with her predecessor David Cameron who was reluctant to use the controversial power.
 
Cameron was fearful that implementing the said plan would provoke comparisons to the violent troubles in Northern Ireland, when British soldiers patrolled the streets for decades.
 
He was also worried that it might give the impression that the government had lost control and was imposing martial law.
 
The only other Prime Minister in recent times to deploy soldiers in mainland Britain in response to a terrorist threat was Tony Blair, who sent tanks and 450 members of the armed forces to guard airports in 2003 after warnings of a plot to bring down an airliner.
 
He was strongly criticized for risking undue panic, and military chiefs have since warned that once soldiers are deployed, it is difficult to justify pulling them back without also lowering the terrorist threat level.
 
The fact of the matter is the global jihadist insurgency is flourishing. And its evil tentacles are spreading in every direction.
 
Time to get the soldiers out of the barracks.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Unpopular Donald Trump & Unpopular Najib Razak

President Donald Trump has the lowest job approval rating of any US president after his first 100 days in office than any in history. Ever since Gallup began presidential approval surveys in 1953.
 
According to the Gallup poll released on April 29, 2017, only forty-two percent of those surveyed said they approve of the president's job thus far, while another 53 percent said they disapprove. And the historical average approval of presidents is 61 percent.
 
Not just Gallup. In fact, in 12 of 15 polls, Trump's approval had indeed nose-dived.
 
If you think that fact is cringeworthy, wait until you read about Prime Minister Najib Razak.

 















Time magazine has come up with a list of five world leaders labelled matter-of-factly as “less popular” than Trump.
 
This “exclusive club” consists of Nicolas Maduro, President of Venezuela; Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa; Michel Temer, President of Brazil; Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece; and yes, Malaysia’s Najib.
 
In Malaysia, we hardly need polls to know that Najib’s approval rating is at record lows too.
 
In GE13, his BN clique won a majority of the parliamentary seats to hold on to power despite having won only 47% of the total votes cast.
 
Of 1,000 Malaysian respondents surveyed by FT Confidential Research in 4Q16, 71.5 percent held a negative view of Najib’s performance in office. This is already a fall of 1.4 percentage points quarter on quarter.
 
And Malaysiakini on February 17, 2017 had reported a claim made by a Selangor government think-tank that Najib is the most unpopular prime minister in the nation's history.
 
According to Institut Darul Ehsan, only 19 percent of the 2,018 respondents, who are Selangor voters, supported Najib.
 
The Malaysian Insight had similarly published a report dated May 16, 2017 of another IDE survey in March this year, which polled 2,208 respondents and showing Najib’s popularity rating to be at just 19 percent.
 
Still, I don’t believe Najib is too alarmed by the above.

Really, he has little to worry about because he and his cabal of spongers in BN are very much in control of the government – and not to mention, his own unfailing conviction that he is surely going to preserve UMNO’s 60-year rule in the next general election.
 
Yesterday, I was at the Malaysiakini premise in Petaling Jaya to attend an event simply called “Lunch with Zunar” – an entertaining sharing of the ideas behind his cartoons as well as his close encounters with the law (Twit Twit). An afternoon well-spent.
 








 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Only RM26 a copy

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Plan to Make Anwar Ibrahim PM














Placards that read 'Anwar PM Ke-7' (Anwar as 7th PM) at the PKR's national congress in Shah Alam, Selangor on May 21, 2017. Pix by Yusof Mat Isa

Yesterday, PKR’s Rafizi Ramli outlined how his party planned to make Anwar Ibrahim the prime minister even though the PKR de facto leader is presently incarcerated.
 
The party vice president explained that if Pakatan Harapan takes over the government, the coalition would first make current parliamentary Opposition Leader Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail interim prime minister, which has been agreed by DAP and Parti Amanah Negara.
 
Rafizi spelled out that Wan Azizah, who is PKR president and Anwar’s wife, would then help her spouse to be released from prison and a by-election would be held to make Anwar a Member of Parliament, and subsequently PM.
 
Rafizi also stressed that the only reason Anwar was imprisoned was because he had been “victimised by political enemies”.
 
The Pandan MP also shot a warning to his party leaders to always remember Anwar as he was the one who helped them rise in their political careers.
 
“When we go back to our constituencies, we are indebted to Anwar. If it wasn’t for him, we won’t have our seats”, he added.
 
That's good but first, the opposition bloc will have to win GE14. Don't screw it up!
 
On Sunday, champions Celtic beat Hearts 2-0 to become the first team to complete a Scottish top-flight season unbeaten in 118 years.
 
Leigh Griffiths (50) and Stuart Armstrong (76) secured a thirty-fourth win of the campaign for Brendan Rodgers' side, who were then presented with the Scottish Premiership trophy.
 
And Celtic with 34 wins and 4 draws join Arsenal (2003-04) and Juventus (2011-12) in being unbeaten over a 38-game league season. What an amazing achievement!
 
On the same day too, Liverpool finished in fourth place and secured their return to the Champions League with a solid 3-0 win over Middlesbrough in this last EPL match of the season.
 
Georginio Wijnaldum drove an unstoppable effort in at the near post in the forty-fifth minute. Five minutes later, Philippe Coutinho kept his cool to bend a 25-yard free-kick round the Middlesbrough wall and into the back of the net. And six minutes after that, Wijnaldum nodded into Adam Lallana's path on the edge of the area and the midfielder slotted home.
 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Fashion Advice from UMNO Minister

Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor (left) was showing how idiotic he was when he said that women should “dress shabbily” to avoid sexual harassment.
 
He had responded to a Puteri UMNO member who expressed concern over public safety during a Transformasi Nasional 2050 dialogue session in Bandar Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur on May 17, 2017.
 
News portal Malaysiakini quoted him: “It’s because you’re so beautiful. The next time you go out, wear more comot (shabby) clothes”.
 
His remarks reportedly drew cheers and applause from the audience. The woman who posed the question also laughed at Tengku Adnan’s remarks.
 
Malaysians are not very bright, as you can see. And of course, you also can’t blame the UMNO member because this party attracts people who suffer from a serious disability called stupidity.
 
PKR Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin was quick to retort: “This is what we call a shabby minister”.
 
Zuraida also challenged the UMNO young women’s wing to “stand up” to Tengku Adnan (also known as Ku Nan).
 
“Don’t they feel embarrassed?” she asked.
 
Of course, not. FT UMNO Youth even sprung to the defense of Tengku Adnan. Their chief Razlan Rafii said PKR’s Wanita wing needed to learn how to take a joke.

He said: “If we lived in a world with PKR as our country’s leaders, we would see no more humor in Malaysia”.
 
Now you know why UMNO are a party of jokers!
 
This afternoon, I was at the Sai Baba Center in Jalan SS3/33, Petaling Jaya. I was both Table Topics Evaluator and Timer at today's Sai Masters Toastmasters meeting. 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

China: Najib Razak's Savior

Yesterday, in a live interview on Facebook, Mahathir Mohamed said Malaysia’s No. 1 was trying to “save” himself by awarding huge contracts to China.

Malaysia’s longest serving prime minister made this claim when asked for his take on why Najib Razak was forging closer ties with China and whether there was an ulterior motive behind the move.

“The prime minister sees China as being rich, he wants Chinese money, how do you get Chinese money? By awarding huge contracts to China”, he said, adding this was why Najib “purchased” trains from China.

“(But) we can’t pay. When he needs to borrow money, he sells off land to China, because he (Najib) has no money to pay the debts, because we owe so much”.

Mahathir, who has become Najib’s fiercest critic, said Najib was able to remain silent and delay the repayment of debts to Malaysian institutions such as the EPF, KWAP and Lembaga Tabung Haji – but could not do the same with loans taken from banks and international financial institutions.

He said if these debts weren’t settled, action would be taken against Malaysia, including the possibility of declaring the country bankrupt.

“When that happens, people will know what he (Najib) has done, so he is trying to prevent that. If he falls in the election (GE14), he will face a lot of problems”.

Najib’s political opponents have alleged that recent Chinese investments in Malaysia are nothing other than a “bailout” following the 1MDB fiasco.

Many have also alleged that the deals with China would ultimately affect Malaysia’s sovereignty due to the nature of the investments.

Mahathir himself has criticized Chinese projects in Malaysia, including the $100 billion (RM432 billion) Forest City project in Johor, arguing that when he was prime minister, investors were limited to setting-up manufacturing facilities in Malaysia.

He said that under Najib’s leadership, Chinese investments had involved property and infrastructure projects on vast tracts of land.

Najib, of course, cannot remain silent – he has hit back at his critics, saying that investments from China were no different from those from other countries and taking into account the globalization phenomenon of the inter-connected world that Malaysia operates in today.

China, I'm sure, has its own agenda and methinks it is not about saving Najib only.