Sunday, December 16, 2018

The French Are Still Angry

Image credit: AP

Thousands of "yellow vest" protesters gathered in French cities for a fifth consecutive Saturday of demonstrations. 

Even topless women showed up at the Champs Elysée in Paris as part of the ongoing Yellow Vest protests – called Acte 5: Macron Démission (Act 5: Macron’s Resignation). 

With their bodies and faces covered with bronze paint, they were dressed as red-hooded “Marianne”, a national symbol of the French Republic.

Image credit: Sputnik News, December 15, 2018 

Image credit: Benoît Tessier/Reuters 

And seventy thousand police officers had been mobilized.

French president Emmanuel Macron called on Friday for a return to calm in the country after nearly a month of protests that have hit the economy and caused widespread disruption. 

In a televised address to the nation on Monday, he had announced wage rises for the poorest workers and tax cuts for pensioners in further concessions meant to end the movement – but many said they would maintain the pressure. 

As one protestor, Priscillia Ludosky had previously said: “We are not understood, we are not heard, our opinions are not sought on the big decisions. I get the impression that when the president speaks to people in the street, he’s completely detached from reality”. 

Antonin Olles, a retired technology teacher explained that social media has played a key role in creating the Yellow Vest movement, and restoring to people here a role in the national debate. 

“The government (weren’t) aware of the power of social media in giving a voice to people who weren’t being heard”, he said. “Not only does it let people air their grievances, it also lets them communicate with people who feel the same way. These people don’t often get to speak to the TV or the newspapers. It’s a way for them to mobilise; to show they exist”. 

BBC News quoted Christophe Guilluy as saying: “In France, people are using the gilets jaunes as a way to say ‘we exist’ to the elites, to the political class, to those who have forgotten about them for the past 20 years…” 

A grassroots movement whose time has come for their collective voice to be heard – and the government cannot pretend they don’t exist anymore. 

On Thursday evening, I was at the Huttons OneWorld HQ office in Metro Genting Klang in Jalan Genting Kelang, KL – special thanks to Immediate Past President Susan Woo for making the arrangement for me to present my speech at the OneWorld Toastmasters Club.

I did a speech from the Humorously Speaking manual, assignment #2 Leave Them With a Smile – the topic “The Funny Side of Her” was suggested by Woo herself during the said meeting. 

And I was voted Best Project Speaker.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Six More Rats Flee

The UMNO exodus continues unabated.

Yesterday, six more UMNO MPs have abandoned the party. 

They are Hamzah Zainudin (Larut), Rosol Wahid (Hulu Terengganu), Abdul Latiff Ahmad (Mersing), Shabudin Yahaya (Tasik Gelugor), Mohamad Fasiah Mohd Fakeh (Sabak Bernam), and Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz (Tanah Merah). 

Therefore, UMNO’s representation in the Dewan Rakyat has plunged from 54 seats to just 37. Behind PKR. Behind DAP. 

Already, Alor Star UMNO Youth had demanded party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to step down to ensure UMNO survive. 

Their chief Syed Mohd Johan Rizal Syed Unan Mashri (right) said in no uncertain terms on Friday: “We are making this stand as it is what the grassroots want”. 

The day before, Sabah UMNO Youth also issued a call for Zahid’s immediate resignation in the wake of a mass exit of leaders from the party’s chapter in the state. 

Their vice-chief Ghazalie Ansing (left) publicly declared that Zahid no longer commanded respect within the party. He even accused the latter of using UMNO as “a shield to save himself”. 

In October, the UMNO Youth chief himself had actually told Zahid to go on leave pending the outcome of his corruption trial – but the latter ignored him. 

The chickenshit named Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki (right) has kept quiet since then.

Now, the opportunistic Khairy Jamaluddin (left) smelt blood and yesterday, he promptly threw his support behind the growing clamor for Zahid to quit, as a rebellion gathers momentum. 

It looks like Zahid’s days are numbered. 

But the UMNO president seems unruffled and unflappable.

And what about sacking Najib Razak too? 

After all, he is the root cause of all of UMNO’s problems in the first place.

Bohemian Rhapsody Again

Bohemian Rhapsody is a movie of extraordinary talents making extraordinary music. A filmic paean to misfits who boldly blazed the trail. A celebratory triumph of self-belief. 

All the clips and trailers in this one video – you must watch this:

(My confession: I can’t get enough of Queen!) 

You may be interested to know that as at November 18, 2018, ‘domestic’ sales of Bohemian Rhapsody already surpassed $124 million – it reached $128,228,824 – making the Queen biopic the biggest LGBTQIA-themed movie of all time. 

I checked again on December 11 – that’s forty screening days – and ‘domestic’ ticket sales zipped past $170 million – $ 175,101,347 to be precise – cementing Bohemian Rhapsody as the No. 3 even when adjusted for inflation, behind Interview with the Vampire ($106m in 1994/$230m adjusted) and The Birdcage ($124m in 1996/$256m adjusted). 

As someone has highlighted, this proves that live-action musicals like Bohemian Rhapsody are a big deal even in our Netflix-and-chill era.

On Thursday, I was at the IJM Toastmasters meeting in Jalan Yong Shook Lin, PJ in Selangor – where I was a Speech Evaluator.

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Ten Knaves

Today, yet another update from my Rogues' Gallery. The ten knaves.

Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin (left), in a Facebook post, told Lynas employees on Thursday that Lynas management should just honor their commitment to remove their WLP and NUF from Malaysia – it’s as simple as that. 

Clarifying the ministry's decision to impose additional pre-conditions on Lynas' licence renewal, she said there was no viable near-term solution to manage the accumulated residue at the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP). 

Lynas staffers actually, need not bother to come to KL – it’s good enough to hold a protest at Gebeng and tell Amanda Lacaze point-blank to get rid of the wastes, both radioactive and non-radioactive. 

Then, we will all be happy! It's a win-win for everybody  get it?

Celtic continued their progress in the Europa League even though they lost 1-2 to FC Red Bull Salzburg yesterday. 

Second-half goals from Munas Dabbur and Fredrik Gulbrandsen, before Celtic’s Olivier Ntcham scored a late consolation, tucking away the rebound from his own penalty awarded for a foul on Filip Benkovic was the disappointing outcome from Thursday’s match. 

And yet, thanks to Rosenborg's shock draw in Leipzig, Germany, Celtic still came out triumphant. 

The Scottish champions' qualification was decided by Rosenborg’s Tore Reginiussen whose strike four minutes from time in Germany gave them a 1-1 draw against RB Leipzig. 

That, of course, proved decisive for Celtic because that tie allowed them to sneak into the last 32.

Roaches to the Rescue

We should look upon cockroaches kindly. 

On the outskirts of Jinan, capital of eastern Shandong province in China, cockroaches represent a novel form of urban waste disposal. 

Here, they are being fed with 50 tonnes of kitchen waste daily – the equivalent in weight to seven adult elephants. 

In the near pitch-dark, you can hear them before you see them – an army of cockroaches scuttling and fluttering across stacks of wooden boards as they devour food scraps by the tonne. 

The air is warm and humid – just as these roaches like it – and this ensures the colonies keep their health and voracious appetites. The waste arrives before daybreak at the plant run by Shandong Qiaobin Agricultural Technology Co, where it is fed through pipes to cockroaches in their cells. 

Shandong Qiaobin plan to establish three more such plants next year – they’re setting their sights on processing a third of the kitchen waste produced by Jinan, home to about seven million people. 

Expanding Chinese cities are generating more food waste than they can accommodate in landfills. Therefore, cockroaches could be a way to get rid of mountains of food scraps – and when these gluttonous bugs eventually die, they become nutritious food for livestock.

Besides, a nationwide ban on using food waste as pig feed due to African swine fever outbreaks is also facilitating the growth of the roach industry. 

If cockroaches can fix China’s food waste problem – why can’t we consider this for Malaysia too?

On Wednesday, I was at the UNIPAC Engineering office at Jalan Jurubina U1/18, Hicom-Glenmarie Industrial Park in Shah Alam, Selangor. 

I had been invited by UNIPAC Toastmasters Club president Celine Pang to take on the role of General Evaluator as well as deliver a speech during their meeting two days ago – and which I gratefully accepted. It was a CC #10 titled Don’t Fly, Soar!

I was voted Best Project Speaker.