Thursday, January 18, 2018

Don't Let the Dog Out

Some Malaysian businesses have decided to look stupid because they want to avoid any canine depiction  as Chinese Malaysians prepare to usher in the Year of the Dog on February 16. 

Sunway Malls chief operating officer Kevin Tan, for one, told The Malaysian Insight the mall did not use any display of the dog in 2006 (the previous cycle of the dog year) – and this was because of creative considerations. 

He even said he had many choices and so, he did not necessarily have to use the image of a dog. 

A mall is a public space, different races will be gathered here, he tried explaining. "We'll avoid any decorations with contentious elements”. Meaning, don't let the dog out!

Don't give me that malarkey! Tan is so full of bull.

Already, Universiti Sains Malaysia political scientist Azmil Tayeb – an expert on Islamic politics in Southeast Asia – said, as quoted The Malaysian Insight: “It’s definitely not healthy. It’s ridiculous. The tolerance is one way. This is due to years of intimidation (from some authorities). It’s overboard”. 

Weird, kan? The Malay person can see it in this light; the Chinese person doles out horseshit. 

Azmil reiterated: “Because non-Muslims have been told so many times not to offend, they think this is the best way to be safe than sorry”. 

My advice to Tan: Don’t celebrate the Lunar New Year this year because the dog is contentious! 

Woof, woof! Tan is telling us very subtly that Malay-Muslims are reactionary, narrow-minded and intolerant. Since when have pictures of dogs become offensive? 

[Note: The Chinese zodiac assigns a different animal and its reputed attributes to each year in a repeating 12-year cycle. And the dog comes after the rooster and before the pig in the zodiac]. 

Don’t forget that the dog (and the pig) are part of Chinese culture. 

Pic courtesy of Pos Malaysia, January 16, 2018 

Image credit: 

And yet, Pos Malaysia today issued the first stamp series of 2018 themed "Working Dogs". 

Their Stamp and Philately Unit commercial postal and courier head, Diyana Lean Abdullah said the stamps feature three types of well-known working dogs, namely detector dogs, protection dogs and guide dogs. 

"This collection highlights the importance of working dogs trained to perform specific tasks to assist humans, for example, in crime prevention, detection of concealed substances or objects and to assist visually impaired individuals", she said on Tuesday. 

Dogs are being pictorially depicted. On Malaysian stamps. What irony! 

What say you, Tan? I suggest you stop making us Chinese feel insecure and looking like fools!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wantan Mee to Die For

Image credit: Facebook

Malaysians, I am sure, are familiar with wantan mee – and just like nasi lemak – it is a versatile meal that you can eat during breakfast, lunch, dinner or supper. 

And yes, the typical Malaysian eats four times a day, in case you don’t know. 

Just so you know, wantan mee is not confined to this country but is also available in neighboring countries. 

So this restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand made the news because it had decided to take wantan mee to the next level by hugely increasing its portion and throwing in a food challenge! 

According to China Press, this bowl of noodles consists of massive amounts of char siew (Chinese-style BBQ pork), vegetables and succulent wantans (also spelled wontons) – not to mention, a generous amount of noodles. I am salivating just looking at the size of this dish – more so since I have not had breakfast!

Image credit: China Press

This humongous bowl of wantan mee is priced at 250 baht (about RM31) and it can easily feed up to three people, based on my eating capacity, that is. 

Currently, there’s an ongoing challenge at the restaurant – if you can finish this heavyweight meal by yourself – your meal will be completely FREE. 

[Note: In case you’re wondering, yes, they do serve normal portions of wantan mee too. Oh, if you do not wish to partake your meal there, you can have it as a take-away].

Image credit: China Press

Needless to say, this lavish wantan mee had made an explosive appearance on social media and to be sure, it attracted many Malaysian netizens’ attention. 

“Are you free this weekend? We can make a road trip to Bangkok and take on this challenge”, a netizen said after tagging his friend in the comment section. 

If you’re keen on paying them a visit – you will need this info: 

Restaurant name: บะหมี่ล้มยักษ์ ท่าน้ำนนท์ 
Operating hours: 10am – 6pm daily; closed on Mondays  
Google maps: บะหมี่ล้มยักษ์ ท่าน้ำนนท์, 11000 Bangkok

On Sunday, Liverpool met Manchester City at Anfield in a fast-flowing EPL game. 

Both teams delivered goals and you can sense the palpable excitement throughout the match. As Jurgen Klopp described it: Two teams, full throttle. 

The Reds’ bounty came from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (9), Roberto Firmino (59), Sadio Mane (61) and Mohamed Salah (68) – the last three of which came in an eight-minute quick-fire spell. The Blues replied through Leroy Sané (40), Bernardo Silva (84) and Ilkay Gündogan (90+1). 

And beating the runaway league leaders after a 22-match unbeaten run is scintillatingly brilliant. More so, a seven-goal thriller! 

A well-deserved win for Liverpool – especially following Philippe Coutinho's departure. 

[Note: Coutinho's £142m transfer to Barcelona went through last week Monday]. 

Something for fans to chew on. Liverpool have scored 85 goals in all competitions this season – just seven shy of the tally they managed in the whole of last season (92). 

We have now moved up to third in the table, level on points with Manchester United in second and fourth-placed Chelsea.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Amputation under Hudud

Screenshot from an ISIS video. Image credit:

It all started when Kelantan deputy menteri besar Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah said contemporary Islamic scholars were of the opinion that the services of doctors were needed to carry out punitive amputation on thieves found guilty under hudud law. 

“We want to use a surgeon to avoid any damage to the remaining parts of the limb”, he was quoted saying. 

Singapore’s Today on January 03, 2018 cited him as also saying the state will allocate RM1 million (S$330,552) to research how best to implement hudud that includes amputation, whipping and stoning for some offences. 

Just as promptly, three prominent Muslim doctors of medicine voiced outrage over the said proposal. They told FMT that would mean asking a doctor to violate his professional oath of doing no harm to the human body. 

The three were Islamic Renaissance Front director Ahmad Farouk Musa, who is a cardiothoracic surgeon, California-based surgeon and political commentator M Bakri Musa and Kota Raja MP Siti Mariah Mahmud, a doctor who used to teach medicine at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. 

On Sunday, Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah even had to issue a statement that the health ministry will never allow doctors to cut off the hands of thieves found guilty even if hudud is implemented in the country. 

“What we said in 2015 still stands today”. 

He maintained that both the health ministry and Malaysian Medical Council are clear about this. 

Only because elections are looming, PAS started to become defensive. 

So, on Tuesday, PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man questioned the criticisms levelled at his fellow PAS member. He said that any discussion was irrelevant as there is currently no such laws in Malaysia. 

“Even in the amendment to Act 355 which has not been passed does not entail such a law”, he said, referring to PAS’s efforts to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965. 

And in a separate report, Kelantan chief Syariah judge Daud Muhammad said the amputation of limbs was not something that would be enforced indiscriminately. 

He added that there were many aspects to consider before delivering such a punishment. “It is not necessary to cut the hand for stealing... we must see the circumstances, such as whether (the thief) was desperately acting out of hunger or other causes that led to the crime”, he was quoted as saying. 

“God willing, we will not have to reach that extent. It is, however, important to have and empower the law”, he added. 

I don't know why but suddenly, I am envisioning a population of limbless citizens in Kelantan – if the Taliban, oops, I mean PAS continue to wield power. For a start, it is public knowledge that Kelantan’s vices are already way over its head.

Sabahans Told to Forgive Mahathir Mohamad

Sabahans should take the cue from the likes of DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang and PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim and forgive former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad for his past transgressions, said Parti Warisan Sabah president Shafie Apdal on Sunday. 

He said the people should therefore stop and ask themselves, what compelled two strong-headed men, who had in the past demonised Mahathir that they are now willing to work with him. 

The former rural and regional development minister spelled it out: “We humans are not perfect. Each of us has our faults. Mahathir has said sorry and his apology was accepted by Anwar and Lim. We should ask why they accepted this apology. Because their desire for change is stronger than their anger. For the sake of the nation, they are willing to set aside the bitter past so that the Malaysian government is replaced for the better”. 

The ex-UMNO vice-president also reminded the people that it was Mahathir who had revived UMNO when the party was deregistered in 1987. 

side note.


A Malaysiakini report published February 20, 2016 had carried the preposterous claim trumpeted by thick-skinned Najib Razak that it was him who actually saved UMNO!] 

Shafie said that it was ironical that the person who had resuscitated the party was now working hard to kill it – but not with any malicious intent. 

[Already, Shafie’s Parti Warisan Sabah and other like-minded parties are working hard to break BN’s stranglehold over Sabah]. 

Mahathir is under attack, Shafie said. BN want to discredit Mahathir because he is a threat. 

Just like Shafie, we must acknowledge that the latter still has the mental capacity and the experience, both of which would be beneficial to Malaysia. 

“He was the man who successfully manoeuvred the country out of the 1997 financial crisis. He knows how to get the country out of trouble and we want this knowledge”, he explained. 

Shafie who is also Semporna MP said currently, the country was burdened by mounting debts and the government was finding it difficult to service its loans. This is why, he said, the government resorted to introducing GST. 

[Note: In spite of Shafie’s support for Mahathir, his party are maintaining their independence and had resolved not to join Pakatan Harapan]. 

Sure, we all know that Mahathir is to be blamed for the so-called Project IC which allegedly granted citizenship to immigrants with the issuance of identity cards. 

That may be so – but remember too, that he couldn’t do what he did without the vigorous support and active participation of as well as with the acquiescence of Sabahans. 

Fast forward to the present. Our 1st goal is to bring down Najib Razak. 

Support Mahathir and all opposition forces because our #1 agenda demands it. It is about saving Malaysia, after all!

Here's something Malaysians must take note of:

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Millennial Job Interview

A millennial’s experience at a job interview  and depending on how you look at it, it can either be hilarious or cringe worthy or both!

I know millennials like that. And they are real. 

A screenshot of the H&M online catalog with the offensive ad. January 14, 2018. 

Last week, H&M found themselves entangled in a social media mess. They had been accused of racism. 

Their online catalog featured an advertisement of a black boy sporting a hoodie with the words "Coolest monkey in the jungle" written on it. 

The Swedish clothing giant tried to quash the criticism by apologizing and withdrawing the ad and the item from sale. But the damage was done. 

Gothenburg University marketing professor Eva Ossiansson pointed out: "In some cases, in order to create a buzz, companies like to stretch their communication and commercials beyond borders". 

But he said it is risky. 

It is much more than that. It is stupid.

Don't Leave PSM Out in the Cold

Parti Sosialis Malaysia are seeking talks with Pakatan Harapan with a view to finding a formula for collaboration in facing GE14. 

“We are prepared to cooperate with them as we consider ourselves part of the opposition, but they are not giving us space to talk”, PSM’s Dr Michael Jeyakumar (left) told FMT. 

It seems they took the initiative to ask PKR to decide on the matter as far back as two years ago – but all they get was a run-around. 

The two-term Sungai Siput MP said: “The whole point of democracy is to give the public different options. If our option is the same as PKR’s, then we should have joined PKR in the first place, but the fact is we didn’t and this shows that we have a different vision for the country”. 

A valid point. And he correctly added: “A healthy democracy is about allowing different visions to be promoted”. 

I support PSM to be included in the opposition coalition. After all, the party have been supporting PH all this while. 

Be warned! If the above is not resolved, PSM will have no choice but to contest under their own party logo. 

And if PSM were to go it alone – they will battle it out with PH and BN in 3-cornered fights for the few seats PSM are eyeing. 

When that happens, PH will be the losers! 

All PSM wanted was a chance to earn their place in the sun. 

Learn to share, PKR! Let’s be all-inclusive. Isn’t that what being a Malaysian is all about?

[For more info background on the PSM dilemma, kindly check out this link:].

Toastmasters Meet @ THE POD had a meeting on Saturday. As always, good learning, good sharing and good fellowship.

Again, I was the Toastmaster-of-the-Morning.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Abdul Hadi Awang Hallucinates

On Friday, Malaysians learned that Abdul Hadi Awang (left) hallucinates. 

Hadi supposedly had highfalutin visions that his Islamist party will win 40 parliamentary seats in GE14 – hence, guaranteeing a kingmaker role for PAS. 

He fantasized that both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan cannot secure an outright majority at the coming polls. 

The moonstruck dreamer and half-cocked politician said that if and when PAS capture 40 parliamentary seats, the other parties wouldn't be able to form a government without depending on his party – meaning they would then be in a position to make demands. 

There are 222 parliamentary seats. 

In the last election, PAS won 22 seats when they were part of the now defunct Pakatan Rakyat. And now they want to retain this 22 plus win another 18. 

[Note: PAS had indicated they will be fielding candidates in 132 seats]. 

Hadi must have tied his turban a little too tight that day, and therefore, constricting blood flow to his brain. I am being polite here – I am allowing myself to believe that he has a brain in the first place. 

Dream on, Hadi! You are a joker! And a sicko! 

On Friday too, I was at The Lectern KL Toastmasters meeting, held in an Indian restaurant, i.e. The Olive Tree in Menara Hap Seng, Jalan P Ramlee, KL. 

I was the Toastmaster of the Evening.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Nur Jazlan Threatens Anwar Ibrahim

Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed fired the first salvo against the news that Anwar Ibrahim could be released from prison as early as June 08 this year. 

Yesterday, he said Anwar’s jail time could be extended if the latter’s statements issued from behind bars were without the approval of the director-general of the Prisons Department. He maintained that if the pronouncements were not sanctioned, it is, therefore, an offence.

Nur Jazlan said the statements included Anwar’s “blessing” for PH to name Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister-designate should PH capture Putrajaya in GE14. 

For sure, BN and especially UMNO are in jitters. 

Already, Mahathir has to endure constant attacks by BN – showing the governing coalition is genuinely worried about a possible opposition victory in the 14th general election. The 92-year-old elder statesman’s experience in governance and his unswerving determination to defeat UMNO made him the best bet to lead the opposition in the polls. 

And with Anwar’s strong support – Pakatan Harapan have more than a sliver of hope to wrest control of the government. I am optimistic. 

On Thursday, I was at the USG Boral Toastmasters meeting in Sunway – where I was the General Evaluator.

A wonderful meeting. Indeed, I am impressed with the enthusiasm, the energy and the eagerness to learn and benefit from Toastmasters.

Thanks, Leanne, for the invite.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Lessons from Google

I read this Washington Post article that says in America, students are advised to focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects – believing that’s the only way to become workforce ready. 

And yet two studies of workplace success contradict the conventional wisdom about “hard skills”. 

More surprisingly, this research comes from the company most identified with the STEM-only approach: Google. 

Sergey Brin and Larry Page, both computer scientists, founded their company on the conviction that only technologists can understand technology. 

Google originally set their hiring algorithms to sort for computer science students with top grades from elite science universities. 

In 2013, Google decided to test their hiring hypothesis by crunching every bit and byte of hiring, firing, and promotion data accumulated since the company’s incorporation in 1998. 

Project Oxygen alarmed and even shocked everyone by concluding that, among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise comes in dead last. 

The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas. 

Sad to say but many, if not all, of these characteristics, are missing in a vast majority of Malaysian graduates. 

I know we know this  but do we continue to be in self-denial and just let it be? Or will we face up to this and do something about it? 

Those traits sound more like what one gains as a social science or humanities major than as a programmer. Could it be that top Google employees were succeeding despite their technical training, not because of it? 

After bringing in anthropologists and ethnographers to dive even deeper into the data, the company enlarged their previous hiring practices to include other majors, and even the MBAs that, initially, Brin and Page viewed with disdain. 

Project Aristotle, a study released by Google last year, further supports the importance of soft skills even in high-tech environments. It analyzes data on inventive and productive teams. 

Google takes pride in their A-teams, assembled with top scientists, each with the most specialized knowledge and able to throw down one cutting-edge idea after another. 

Their data analysis revealed, however, that the company’s most important and productive new ideas come from B-teams comprised of employees who don’t always have to be the smartest people in the room. 

Project Aristotle shows that the best teams at Google exhibit a range of soft skills: equality, generosity, curiosity toward the ideas of your teammates, empathy, and emotional intelligence. And topping the list: emotional safety. No bullying. To succeed, each and every team member must feel confident speaking up and making mistakes. They must know they are being heard. 

Google’s studies concur with others trying to understand the secret of a great future employee. 

Another survey of 260 employers by the non-profit National Association of Colleges and Employers, which includes both small firms and behemoths like Chevron and IBM, also ranks communication skills in the top three most-sought after qualities by job recruiters. They prize both an ability to communicate with one’s workers and an aptitude for conveying the company’s product and mission outside the organization. 

Or take billionaire venture capitalist and “Shark Tank” TV personality Mark Cuban: Interestingly, he looks for philosophy majors when he’s investing in sharks most likely to succeed. 

I certainly agree with the said article that STEM skills are vital to the world we live in today – BUT technology alone (as Steve Jobs famously insisted), is not enough! 

We desperately need the expertise of those who are educated to the human, cultural, and social as well as the computational. 

Therefore, no student should be prevented from majoring in an area they love based on a false idea of what they need to succeed. 

Certainly, broad learning skills are the key to long-term, satisfying, productive careers. 

What helps you thrive in a changing world isn’t rocket science. It may just well be social science, and, yes, even the humanities and the arts that contribute to making you not just workforce ready but world ready. 

Let’s spread the word about this to everybody and anybody. It is indeed worth sharing.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Mahathir Mohamad Says Thank You!

The PH prime ministerial candidate Mahathir Mohamad surprised me. He actually thanked Anwar Ibrahim and his family. 

The former prime minister said he understood that while it was not easy for those who did not like him to accept him, he was grateful for their willingness to put aside their differences for the future of the country. And he specifically mentioned Anwar and his family. He knew they suffered for twenty years. 

Mahathir said on Sunday that it must not have been easy for everybody to put the past behind them but they knew they had to in the struggle to free the country from Prime Minister Najib Razak's rapacious clutches. 

"I owe them and I thank Anwar for this gesture... for being willing to work with me to save this country", he had said. 

But I also continue to read irate PH supporters making a belligerent din about their unhappiness with Mahathir’s so-called appointment. Even PKR Selangor had come out publicly to oppose it. 

I too had reservations but surely, we must learn to put aside our anger, our bitterness, our rancor. 

The country must come first. Let’s be clear about this! 

We are dealing with Pakatan Harapan – a grouping of EQUALS. 

As such, we should be under no illusion that they have NO CHOICE but to compromise. They are compelled to accommodate themselves to the changed political scenario. They have to make concessions. Therefore, they must compromise, like it or not. 

It’s what is best for PH – the primary objective being to bring the critical vote home, and in doing so, ensure we obtain the highest probability of success at the ballot. And take control of Putrajaya. 

[Note: That critical vote refers to the very significant rural and suburban Malay-Muslim vote – without which, PH cannot realistically hope to win at the polls. Mahathir and his Bersatu members, therefore, appeal to this demographic]. 

Lest we persist in being unyieldingly adamant and unshakeably stubborn – ask ourselves this question. Who is the lesser of the two evils? Mahathir or Najib? 

I don’t like Mahathir. 

But Mahathir has apologized. Mahathir has acknowledged the sacrifices made by Anwar and family. And to his political enemies-turned-allies too. 

Isn’t it time for all of us to look ahead, to stay united and throw our support behind Pakatan Harapan? Only then can we get ready to do battle with BN. 

Putrajaya is in sight. 

Yesterday, I was at the MIMPJ Toastmasters meeting. I was the General Evaluator there. 

And I was even voted Best Table Topics Speaker. 

A good meeting.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Malaysia Drowning in Debts

The Malaysian government's debt has ballooned by an average of 10% a year over the past 10 years due to over-the-top spending. 

This trend can be expected to continue under PM Najib Razak and if and when it continues, it will surely lead to Malaysia being a trillion ringgit in debt within four years – as claimed by The Edge Malaysia

By 2028, this would stack up to RM2 trillion and by 2032, it would swell even more to RM3 trillion. It said as at September last year, the nation's debt had reached RM687.43 billion (51.1% of GDP) from RM266.72 billion in 2007. This, however, excludes the government-guaranteed debt of RM226.88 billion (16.9% of GDP), in which entities like Ministry of Finance Inc-owned 1MDB's debt falls. 

This debt spiral was attributed to operating expenditure outpacing revenue growth at an average of 6% a year for the past 10 years to RM219.91 billion in 2017 from RM123.1 billion in 2007. 

Revenue grew an average of 4.9% a year over the last decade, to RM225.34 billion in 2017 from RM139.9 billion in 2007, leading to a fiscal deficit, defined as when a government spends more than it earns. 

We should get anxious about the debt service charges too. They have risen from RM6.4 billion in 1997 (9.8% of revenue) to RM28.87 billion in 2017 (12.8% of revenue). This year, debt service charges are projected to reach RM30.88 billion, or 13% of government revenue, equivalent to 96% of the estimated RM32.2 billion personal income tax collected and 71% of the estimated RM43.8 billion collected from GST. 

We already know 2018 is going to be challenging for Malaysians. 

Know that about RM75.7 billion of government debt will mature this year – higher than the RM71.3 billion last year, according to AllianceDBS Research economists. 

Tighten your belts, Malaysians, because irrespective of the GE14 outcome – we will be in for a very tough year!