Tuesday, November 20, 2018

MIC Labuan Close Shop

MIC president SA Vigneswaran (right) made a bizarre announcement – the closure of their 5-branch, 336-member Labuan chapter was because the BN MP had switched camps (Malay Mail Online, November 19, 2018).

He said the defection of UMNO’s Rozman Isli (left) to Parti Warisan Sabah meant it was better for MIC to close shop too. After thirty-two years. 

Does this make any sense to you? 

Already, the Malaysian Indian Congress had suffered a crushing defeat in GE14 – winning only two Parliament and three state seats. And now, in Labuan, they have thrown in the towel. 

Going by Vignes’ logic, they should shut down all divisions, save those where they still have a foothold by way of parliamentary and/or state seats. 

BTW, on Sunday, former MIC Labuan chief Ramasamy Rengasamy said they are quitting MIC to give support to PM Mahathir Mohamad and Pakatan Harapan. 

I see the Vignes statement as wanting to save ‘face’! 

Who cares – after all, MIC, like MCA, like Gerakan are almost close to death. The sooner they curl up and die, the happier Malaysians will be.

I am thankful that DTMs Shel Ling and Selina Chong had kindly offered me a speaking slot at their club, Summit Toastmasters – so yesterday, I'd presented a Get to the Point speech – titled Jump to Conclusions. And I was also the General Evaluator.

I was voted Best Project Speaker and Best Table Topics Speaker.

Last Tuesday, I successfully completed my fiftieth Competent Communication manual and in the six days since – I delivered altogether 3 more CC speeches – an ice-breaker, a CC#7 titled Mmmm Oysters and a CC#3 last evening. 

Yup, I have begun my fifty-first Competent Communication manual. Better still, I’m very gung-ho about wanting to finish the remaining seven speeches in order to complete this latest round of CC by end-November.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Umbrella Activists on Trial

The 2014 umbrella protests paralysed central Hong Kong for almost three months. Image credit: Reuters 

The nine accused were met by more than a hundred supporters outside the court. Image credit: EPA

Nine pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong pleaded not guilty today in a trial seen as a test of judicial independence from Beijing. 

They have been charged with "public nuisance" over the 2014 "Umbrella" movement that demanded Hong Kong choose its own leader. 

At its peak, thousands of protesters paralysed parts of the city for months – an angry reaction to a decision made by China to allow for direct elections in 2017, but only from a list of candidates pre-approved by Beijing. Many Hong Kong citizens believe they should have the right to elect their own leader. 

Three of those accused founded the civil disobedience movement before student groups joined in – they are sociology professor Chan Kin-man, 59, law professor Benny Tai, 54, and Baptist minister Chu Yiu-ming, 74, who founded the 'Occupy Central' movement in 2013. The other six include lawmakers and students. 

The charges carry jail terms of up to seven years.

The trial has been described as "politically motivated prosecution" amounting to "an attack on free speech and peaceful assembly" by rights group Amnesty International.

Democratic space in Hong Kong appears to be shrinking. Beijing should learn to be more understanding, more accommodating!

On One Bended Knee, UMNO Propose to PAS

Finally, the courtship is ending.

On Sunday, UMNO went on one bended knee to propose to PAS. 

Believe me, UMNO and PAS presidents Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Abdul Hadi Awang are in love! Certainly, they’re well-suited and well-paired! 

All in the name of political expediency. 

I guess, politicians will always be politicians. 

In desperate times, they found each other. They discovered love. 

Congratulations to the love birds!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

How Jho Low Stole Christmas!

Unless you’re a fan of Dr Seuss or you have watched the 2000 live-action adaptation of the beloved children's tale How the Grinch Stole Christmas! or the 2018 animated movie The Grinch – you would not know about the Grinch. 

A fictional character who is a killjoy – he hates Christmas and his heart used to be two sizes too small. 

Anyway, this year in Malaysia, forget about him! The Grinch is confined to the movie theaters – and he is not making any appearance anywhere else.

Besides the all-too-familiar Santa Claus, the one who is gaining everybody's attention and showering us with a "Jho-lly" good time with Christmas gifts is an unlikely mascot resembling 1MDB fugitive Jho Low. 

The Apom Store which sells witty products that showcases the quirky side of Malaysian culture, has released an eye-catching line of Xmas merchandise showing a bespectacled rotund man on the run. 

There are T-shirts featuring a caricature in the likeness of Low donning a Santa hat with the words "Spend it like you stole it" while another says "Lari Party Jholly Repeat". 

In line with the spirit of Christmas, a red and white mug says "Jho! Jho! Jho! Tis the season of giving... back". Two other mugs summarise the notorious life of the fugitive businessman with "Drink it like you stole it" and "Money, Party, Jholly, Repeat".

In this age of social media, sending Christmas cards may no longer be in vogue. 

But a Jho Low-inspired festive greeting that reads "Wishing you a Billion Dollar Christmas!" in the front and "Spend it like you stole it" inside the card might just reverse the trend. 

Check out this lifestyle shop on Level 1 in Bangsar Village 1 in Kuala Lumpur’s Bangsar.

UMNO-PAS Spit Malice

These days, UMNO and PAS exploit and manipulate racial and religious issues to belch animosity, rack up hatred and spit malice. 

UMNO Batu Pahat chief Mohd Puad Zarkashi (right) had accused MACC of intentionally targeting only UMNO, in bringing to court former government leaders to face charges of corruption. 

This is part of a game plan by Mahathir Mohamad to destroy the Malay party, he maintained. “Tun M only wants to destroy UMNO and has asked them (from UMNO) to join PPBM to save PPBM”. 

He said the prime minister did not think MCA, MIC and Gerakan, who were part of the previous BN government, are a threat – obviously implying that only the Malays were being targeted. 

He argued that it would not be “that difficult” for MACC to come up with corruption charges against leaders from parties other than UMNO. 

“How come not one charge is made up for them? Why only UMNO?” he questioned.

UMNO sow the seeds of enmity and rancor because they view the world through the distorting medium of their own selfish and self-serving ambitions. 

On the same day too, Perak PAS commissioner Razman Zakaria (left) sought to pit DAP and the Malay rulers against each other – alleging that the Pakatan Harapan component are challenging the sovereignty of the Malay rulers because DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng had advised his party members against accept honorific titles from the royals. 

PAS purportedly wear the badge of Islam – but they are not always what they appear to be. They are hypocrites and zealots bent on breeding intolerance and chauvinism. 

These days, nothing good comes from any of them. 

Surely, Malaysians know both UMNO and PAS want to take the country down the road to purgatory. 

For those who know me, Coke and nasi lemak are my staple foods. Not just breakfast, but any time and every time – if I can get the chance to have my Coke and nasi lemak, why not?

Yesterday, I was at Serai, and this was my dinner choice! 

Nasi Lemak Pandan: Aromatic coconut and pandan rice served with ayam goreng berempah, prawn sambal and traditional accompaniments. And reasonably priced too at RM18++.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Tim Leissner's Plea Transcript

The noose tightens even more for the thieving couple, Najib Razak amd Rosmah Mansor. 

Goldman Sachs ex-Southeast Asia boss, Tim Leissner (right), has already pleaded guilty to engaging in a conspiracy to plunder billions from 1MDB and bribe Malaysian officials (including Najib and wife) – and this is now public information, thanks to the publishing of his confession to the court this week. 

In his admission, he had pointed a finger straight at Rosmah as well as others at the bank, whose bosses are in a frenzied state of dreadful panic and their lawyers even now are racing to paint Leissner and his colleague Roger Ng as lone rogue operators: 

“…with the intent to benefit Goldman Sachs and myself, as an employee and agent of Goldman Sachs, I entered into a conspiracy with those individuals identified in the Government’s information to pay bribes and kickbacks to obtain and then retain business from 1MDB for Goldman Sachs. Including the person identified as…Co-conspirator No 1 [Jho Low]…For Instance, I knew that funds derived from Project Magnolia, specifically mentioned in the information, would be diverted to me and others, including government official, through shell companies beneficially owned and controlled by myself and others in US dollars, and those financial transactions would be processed through the United States. I knew that the use of shell companies in these fund transfers was designed, at least in part, to conceal and disguise the nature, location, source, ownership and control of the diverted and the stolen funds. 

The following is one specific instance involving the movement of funds: On or about October 10 2014, I caused approximately $4.1 million to be wire transferred from a foreign bank account controlled by myself and another individual to the US bank account of a New York jeweller in part to pay for jewellery for the wife of a Malaysian government official. I understood that this payment to the New York jeweller was intended to benefit the Malaysian government official and his wife in order to influence them government official to take official acts that would help provide 1MDB business to Goldman Sachs, for the benefit of Goldman Sachs and myself. 

During the course of the conspiracy I conspired with other employees and agents of Goldman Sachs very much in line of its culture to conceal facts from certain compliance and legal employees of Goldman Sachs, including the fact that Jho Low, who is identified as Co-Conspirator Number 1 in the information was acting as an intermediary for on behalf of Goldman Sachs, 1MDB and Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials…I knew that concealing Jho Low’s involvement as an intermediary was contrary to Goldman Sach’s stated internal policies and procedures. I and several other employees of Goldman Sachs at the time also concealed that we knew that Jho Low was promising and paying bribes and kickbacks to foreign officials to obtain and retain 1MDB business for Goldman Sachs, for the benefit of Goldman Sachs and myself and using some of the proceeds of the 1MDB bonds to do so…” [Tim Leissner's Plea Transcript]

I am waiting impatiently for the couple to be thrown into jail!

Blockade to Stop Logging in Perak

Authorities want the villagers of Kampung Cenawing to remove the blockade. Image credit: Marcus Pheong

It is not only in Kelantan that we see trespassing of forests by loggers – it is now happening in Perak too. 

Villagers of Kampung Cenawing near Gerik had installed a blockade after appeals to authorities to stop logging activities fell on deaf ears. 

“The logging activities have destroyed our grazing area. They have also polluted our water source”, acting village head Rozmi Palah said, claiming that as much as 80ha of forests have been cleared. 

“The loggers did not get the proper approvals from the relevant authorities before starting to clear our forest. Now we are facing the consequences”, he complained, adding that rampant tree felling was contributing to flash floods. 

He had even led a party of villagers to try and deliver a protest memorandum to state officials – but they were snubbed and forced to leave the document at the menteri besar’s office. 

Rozmi said they will not abide by the order to dismantle the blockade and will hold a sit-in protest on Sunday instead. 

Perak is now governed by Pakatan Harapan – in this particular instance, they are not much different from PAS! 

Can Menteri Besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu wake up, please and stop the illegal logging?

UMNO are in self-denial. 

It’s kinda sad – but that’s the reality for this Malay political party. 

They don’t want to admit to years of wanton power abuse. They don’t think there’s anything wrong in bribing and cheating and stealing. 

They won’t admit they’ve been severely infected by the cancerous corruption that’s taken over them and eating them alive. 

And they’re refusing to undergo chemotherapy to eliminate the cancer cells. 

UMNO are dying. And that’s the truth.

A sign. A portent. An omen.

Goodbye, UMNO!

Friday, November 16, 2018

RM13.6 Million in Bail for Najib & Rosmah So Far

Image credit: The Star Online, November 15, 2018

A former aide to Najib Razak had slammed the “excessive” bail amount imposed on Rosmah Mansor in her latest corruption case – this was in relation to a RM1.25 billion scam to supply diesel, repair generators, and provide solar hybrid systems to 369 rural schools in Sarawak. 

[BTW, Rosmah and her brother Rizal were not the only crooks in this racket. I’m expecting Najib Razak, former education minister Mahdzir Khalid and senior PBB member Saidi Abang Samsudin, who is the Deputy Chief of the party’s Jepak, Bintulu seat to be indicted for their involvement as well]. 

Anyway, according to The Malaysian Insight, this fella Isham Jalil maintained that the RM1 million bail was too much! 

He had protested that with this latest charges against Rosmah, Najib and wife would have spent RM13.6 million  just on bail – when considering all their criminal cases thus far.  Fifty-seven in total. 

And they can afford to settle. It is clear that they are flushed with money! Besides, I bet the money is all stolen money and/or money obtained through bribes and other corrupt practices. 

If I have my way, all these indictments against Najib and Rosmah would be non-bailable offences.

Yesterday, two more crooks joined my rogues’ gallery, bringing the number to 8. And more to come!

Child Marriage To Continue

The MPs who met the protestors. Malay Mail Online, November 13, 2018 

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Fuziah Salleh, speaks during a demonstration against child marriage outside the Parliament in Kuala Lumpur November 13, 2018. Malay Mail Online, November 13, 2018

Some 80 protestors including women’s rights activists and school students marched to Parliament on Tuesday to present a signed petition to parliamentarians, exhorting them to expedite the banning of child marriage in Malaysia. 

“Hey Hey Ho Ho, child marriage has got to go!” was among the chants heard. 

What was different this time around was the reception they received. For a change, they were not labelled as troublemakers nor viewed as enemies of the state. 

In fact, a Pakatan Harapan delegation of parliamentarians met with the assembled demonstrators – and they included Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh, Sepang MP Mohamed Hanipa Maidin, Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto, and Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh. 

The petition had collected 159,700 signatures of support and this was handed over to Yeoh, who is also the Women, Family and Community Development deputy minister. 

She expressed her appreciation at the public support to push for an end to child marriage in Malaysia. 

All she said was: “The government listens, and we do what is in the best (interest) of the child. As it stands, we are making efforts to amend the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 for non-Muslims, and consulting the Malay Rulers and state governments on child marriage among Muslims”. 

Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail repeated in Parliament that laws to better protect the interest of those involved in child marriages will be tabled in Parliament by mid-2019 – the amendments to cover both civil and Islamic marriages. 

In other words, child marriage will continue. 

What a blardy disappointment!

According to girlsnotbrides.org, child marriage is a global problem that cuts across countries, cultures, religions and ethnicities. Indeed, child brides can be found everywhere, from the Middle East to Latin America, South Asia to Europe. 

Know that 1 in 5 girls in the world are said to be married before she is eighteen. 

Source: UNICEF, State of the World's Children, 2017

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Of Pink Diamonds

An employee displays the Pink Legacy during a preview at Christie's.

A rare 18.96-carat pink diamond fetched $50 million (RM210 million) at an auction in Geneva, Switzerland this week, Christie's said – setting a new per carat record for a stone of its kind, i.e. $2.637 million per carat.

Christie's said the Pink Legacy is "the largest and finest Fancy Vivid Pink diamond ever offered at auction by the company", calling it "incomparable". (Note: "fancy vivid" is the highest possible grade of color intensity). 

If you don’t know, most pink diamonds weigh less than one carat and those in the top color category with more than 10 carats are virtually unheard of at auction houses. 

Also, it possesses a classic rectangular cut which is traditionally used for white stones but rare for pink diamonds – standing out from the typical, more rounded, multi-facetted cuts used today. 

In fact, Christie's international head of jewellery, Rahul Kadakia, described it as "one of the world's greatest diamonds". 

The precious stone, discovered in a South African mine around a century ago and probably cut in the 1920s, has not been altered since, Christie's said. 

Named Pink Legacy, it once belonged to the Oppenheimer family which for decades ran the De Beers diamond mining company – and on Tuesday, it was snapped up by American luxury brand Harry Wilson, part of the Swiss Swatch group. 

Christie's said only four vivid pink diamonds of over 10 carats have ever been offered for auction. 

One of them, the nearly 15-carat Pink Promise, was sold last November at a Christie's auction in Hong Kong for $32.5 million. That amounts to $2.176 million per carat, which was previously the world auction record price per carat for any pink diamond. 

To Malaysians, it confirms that Rosmah Mansor (left) has class. And overly expensive taste.

She already has her grubby hands on her very own pink diamond pendant – I would name it Pink FLOM  reportedly worth $27.3 million (RM113.7 million). 

According to her dog...err, husband, Najis…err, I mean, Najib Razak – it was a gift from Prince Sheikh Mansour, the brother of Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed. Court documents by the US Department of Justice against fugitive businessperson Jho Low however, stated that the necklace was purchased by a shell company owned by him and other co-conspirators. 

I’m wondering aloud what would this piece of jewelry fetch now.

I can just imagine Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng gleefully rubbing his hands together and giving out whoops of joy. I am sure he can't wait to get his hands on it to cash out. 

I was at the EcoWorld Toastmasters meeting at Setia Alam in Shah Alam, Selangor yesterday. 

I was the General Evaluator and also an evaluator for Lee Chin Yee, who presented The Roast, an Advanced speech from the Special Occasion Speeches manual. 

All I can say is “Ouch!” – but I must admit, she was inventively ingenious. 

When she described her subject as a Sesame Street, it did say a lot about that person whom she was highlighting. I saw that individual as being a colourful smorgasbord of complex yet compelling characteristics coming together as one.

And I had never seen May Teoh laughed so loudly! 

What an awesome Toastmasters meeting it was! It was great fun but equally important, there was much learning to be had. It would seem that we were all enthusiastically riding on the crest of an exuberant wave that eloquently whooshed with enjoyment!

Distinguished Toastmaster Tan Saw Bee deserves special mention – she sacrificed a family dinner to be at Setia Avenue. And then, she surrendered her speech evaluation slot – to give the opportunity instead to an EcoWorld Toastmaster Thong Foong Lan (already a Competent Communicator)  but not before armouring her with confidence and coaching her for the task.

And the latter did not disappoint.