Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Malaysia's Real-life Barbie

Until I saw this Malay Mail article today, I didn’t know that we have a real-life Barbie in Malaysia! 

She is social media personality Izubiela Razi (right): “(It is) the public who dubbed me Barbie or the Barbie doll of Malaysia. The title stuck to me because of my body shape, style, way of dressing and makeup, gentle character and having Barbie’s hair colour”. 

The 29-year-old insists “It’s a coincidence because I really love fashion”. 

Anyway, she says she is willing to spend as much money as possible to look like the famous Mattel creation. She maintains she wears makeup every day, whether she is just lounging at home or while doing household chores. And yes, she even has her makeup on when she goes to bed because she wants to “look pretty” too when she’s asleep. 

Furthermore, she insists it makes her husband happy. 

Izubiela also makes the claim she never wears the same outfit twice. 

Now if that is true, I can only shake my head and exclaim “Poor hubby!” – and I mean it literally. 

Another MINDEF scandal is brewing. 

Helicopters bought during the previous Najib Razak administration for over RM300 million have yet to be delivered to the Royal Malaysian Army, a source close to investigations into allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the purchase of defence assets told FMT yesterday.

Six MD530G light scout attack helicopters, manufactured by MD Helicopters of US aerospace giant McDonnell Douglas, were ordered in 2016 by the defence ministry then headed by Hishammuddin Hussein (left) – after they had reportedly impressed Mindef officials during a demonstration at the 2015 Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace exhibition. 

It is said that the helicopter which performed at LIMA 2015 wasn’t really an MD530G but another variant, the MD530F with the serial number N369FF. Image credit: Bernama 

Already, 35% of the contract value, amounting to some RM113 million had been paid to a local company which claimed to be the appointed agent in Malaysia. The FMT report even highlighted that the said entity only had assets that included computers, furniture and office supplies valued at under RM50,000. 

It was also alleged that approval was given just about four months after submission of the proposal by the dubious company which supposedly had strong ties to “a very senior” Mindef official. 

What say you, Hishammuddin? And for sure, Najib must have signed off on the deal too since he was then both Prime Minister and Finance Minister.

Crooked deals just keep surfacing again and again!

Imagine a Naked Audience

I came across the below-mentioned piece on 'public speaking' and it offers food for thought. 

“In fact, public speaking may be primal and quintessentially human, not limited to those of us born with a high-reactive nervous system. One theory, based on the writings of the sociobiologist EO Wilson, holds that when our ancestors lived on the savannah, being watched intently meant only one thing: a wild animal was stalking us. And when we think we're about to be eaten, do we stand tall and hold forth confidently? No. We run. 

In other words, hundreds of thousands of years of evolution urge us to get the hell off the stage, where we can mistake the gaze of the spectators for the glint in a predator's eye. 

Yet the audience expects not only that we'll stay put, but that we'll act relaxed and assured. 

This conflict between biology and protocol is one reason that speechmaking can be so fraught. It's also why exhortations to imagine the audience in the nude don't help nervous speakers; naked lions are just as dangerous as elegantly dressed ones” (Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking). 

I haven’t thought of it this way – but yes, I can buy into the argument. That explains perhaps why I have this nervous twitch and an urge to want to leave the stage even before I say anything. 

Even with Toastmasters’ training, I am surprised I am still nervous, believe it or not! And mind you, I have delivered so many speeches at Toastmasters’ meetings. 

But having said this, I have this unexplainable desire to speak – and once I let my words emerge, I no longer have the urge to flee. I begin to enjoy it. 

That’s right, once I speak, I lose myself in my speech – and therefore, the reception I get is entirely up to my audience – they can lap it up or they can show me their disinterest. 

But rest assured, I will speak because I am a Toastmaster. I'm sure all Toastmasters can agree with me!

Yesterday, I was in Bandar Puteri Puchong in Selangor to attend the Puchong English Toastmasters meeting. Thanks to club president Ernest Tham for kindly agreeing to let me speak at his club. Also special thanks to VP Education Chan Sze Yin for her first-class follow-ups.

There, I delivered my CC #4 speech titled Tongue-tied No More – this represents my 749th assignment speech.

I was even voted Best Project Speaker. Nice!

It has been a few years since I last went to this particular Toastmasters club and I must say, I am impressed with the energy, enthusiasm and exuberance that their members exuded at the meeting. Overall, an exemplary meeting.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Lil Dicky's Bawdy Earth Video

Rapper and comedian Lil Dicky (left) collected a host of celebrities to join him to make a bizarre anally-fixated paean to the Earth’s climate and the disaster the world faces if there isn’t some collective action taken to reverse our current course of carbon emissions. 

“Like a lot of people, I had a vague idea that something bad was happening here on Earth, but I didn’t really realize how insane our climate crisis is and how screwed humanity is about to be”, the artist told Vice’s music publication, Noisey, in an interview. 

“It’s full-on crazy! If we don’t get our act together now, and change a lot about our fundamental behavior, Earth will become unlivable alarmingly soon. Why did it take me so long to get wind of this? I feel like everybody on the planet should be talking about this 24/7. 

But that’s not the case. So, I wanted to make the most entertaining and epic piece of content possible, to get everyone aware and talking. Because it’s now or never… Let’s save the Earth! We love the Earth!!!!”

The video was released on April 18, 2019

For sure, the next decade will be critical in fighting the effects of climate change. 

But after watching the video for Earth, I’m guessing people will be talking more about details like Justin Bieber as a baboon obsessed with his own butt, or Kevin Hart making an appearance as Kanye West, or Snoop Dogg as a talking weed, or Lil Yachty showing up under a microscope as an animated HPV virus that begs, “Don’t let me in!” 

Anyway, the backbone is the simple refrain: “We love the Earth. It is our planet. We love the Earth. It is our home”. And all the people-as-animals chime in between choruses. 

Leonardo DiCaprio (right), whose foundation will distribute all profits from the song to select charities fighting climate change, chimes in with an endorsement of Earth: “This might be my favourite song ever.” 

In the video, Dicky nominates DiCaprio as the chosen one should aliens ever swing by and require a negotiator because of the actor-activist’s environmental knowledge. 

In order of appearance, the video’s roster includes Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Halsey, Zac Brown, Brendon Urie, Hailee Steinfeld, Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg, Kevin Hart, Adam Levine, Shawn Mendes, Charlie Puth, Sia Furler, Miley Cyrus, Lil Jon, Rita Ora, Miguel, Katy Perry, Lil Yachty, Ed Sheeran, Meghan Trainor, Joel Embiid, Tory Lanez and the Backstreet Boys, with John Legend, Psy, Bad Bunny, Kris Wu singing the “We Love the Earth” refrain and Lil Dicky starring as Mankind. 

And it’s racked up 113,707,636 views and counting on YouTube.

Barbie: Fashion Icon

Hmmm, even a doll can be recognized as a fashion icon. 

The universally popular Mattel doll – which turned 60 on March 09 this year – has been announced as the recipient of the Board of Directors’ Tribute at this year’s CFDA Fashion Awards, which will take place in Brooklyn on June 03. She is joining such past honorees as Michelle Obama, Tom Ford and Gloria Steinem.

In fact, Barbie is the first non-living attendee to ever receive the award.

If you don’t know already, the CFDA Awards are designed to celebrate the best of the US fashion industry and according to the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the honor is a nod to Barbie’s “influence on American fashion and her role as an inspiring icon around the globe”. 

Barbie (left) has collaborated with more than 75 designers and influencers. The brand’s first designer partnership was with Oscar de la Renta in 1985. 

Barbie also collaborated with Bob Mackie, who will be awarded the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s ceremony, on a collector doll series in 1990. In fact, Mackie began the Designer Collector series for Mattel and created more than 45 Barbie Collector Dolls for the brand. 

Vera Wang, Diane von Furstenberg, Anna Sui, Zac Posen, Badgley Mischka and Stephen Burrows are among the CFDA members who have created special dolls with Barbie. 

“Barbie has had such wide influence on American fashion and culture”, said Steven Kolb, president and chief executive officer of the CFDA. “Her story personally resonates with so many CFDA members that the board of directors decided to honor her with the special tribute”. 

Barbie’s creator and Mattel’s president Ruth Handler created the doll to allow girls, like her then-young daughter, Barbara, to play out their dreams. The first mass-marketed doll not to be a baby or young girl, 

Handler once explained, “My whole philosophy of Barbie was that, through the doll, the little girl could be anything that she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices”. 

Over the years, Barbie has had 200 professions, from astronaut and firefighter to scientist, nurse and airline pilot.

Note that as I am putting this write-up together, I am scratching my head in bewilderment.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Vote I Die or I Live

A teenager was found dead, believed to have fallen from the third floor of a shophouse in Kuching, Sarawak after she sought advice from netizens to decide if she should kill herself or not. 

She did find her answer. As many as 69% of the sixteen-year-old’s followers on Instagram had supported the decision for her to die via a “Really Important, Help Me Choose D/L” poll, which was uploaded at around 3 PM on Tuesday. [Note: "D" is "die" while "L" is "live"].

Davia Emilia’s body was discovered at about 8 PM that day itself.

The teen had also uploaded a Facebook status that read: ‘WANNA QUIT F**KING LIFE I’M TIRED’. 

According to the police, the girl was believed to have felt stressed when her stepfather married a Vietnamese woman and seldom returned to their home. 

She wasn’t the only one who decided to kill herself. 

That day too, a Taylor’s University student in peninsular Malaysia had committed suicide. 

Eight days earlier, another student from the same university did the same. 

In the wake of the two deaths, the tertiary institution even hastily organized a grief counselling session and talk entitled ‘Suicide and Mental Health’ on Wednesday. 

According to their official Facebook page, the session will touch on topics such as self-care, recognizing signs of depression and stress, and what to do when a friend or family member expresses suicidal thoughts. And of course, making available counsellors. 

It's time we stop treating suicide as a taboo subject. And I’ve said it many times. We are not pro-active enough in our endeavours to help troubled students. 

Mental health is an issue that must be urgently tackled; enough of talk shops lah

Be more open about sharing practical advice and breaking down the barriers young people face when talking about their troubles. More importantly, learn to look out for the kids with mental health issues and reach out to them. 

Believe me, it can help save lives!

There are not a few out there who look at life very differently:

And there are the rest of them who are clueless about these very people. 

I ask you, how can you help them if you cannot feel as they feel? You cannot imagine how frightening it is to possess a drowning sense of foreboding, acute anxiety and oppression. It does seem like all is lost.

THM Funds to Settle a Portion of 1MDB 2019 Debt

Tabung Harapan Malaysia’s entire funds amounting to RM203.29 million will be used to settle a portion of 1MDB 2019 debt amounting to RM1.7 billion, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng (left) said. In a statement on Thursday. 

Lim said this was decided at the THM trust accounts committee meeting on April 24, 2019. 

He informed Malaysians that the exact amount of the Fund stood at RM202,716,775.10 as of January 14, 2019, the closing date for contributions and furthermore, interest received from fixed deposit investments amounted to RM575,342.31 up to March 31. 

It's good to know that public donations to the Fund are being put to correct use. That's Pakatan Harapan for you!

I want to share this remarkable act Big Name Statues sing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody on Britain's Got Talent 2019:

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Poaching Begets 2-year Jail TIme and RM1.56 Million FIne

On Wednesday, in Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, the Sessions Court there sentenced two poachers to a two-year prison term and imposed a fine of RM1.56 million – the highest amount so far for wildlife crimes in the country’s history. 

Judge Azman Mustapha also ruled that the pair would be jailed a further 16 years if they failed to pay the fines. 

The Vietnamese nationals, Hoang Van Viet, 29, and Nguyen Van Thiet, 26, had pleaded guilty to 20 charges under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010. They were detained during the “Ops Belang” exercise in Taman Negara, Terengganu on April 15, 2019. 

According to one news report, in their possession were found 141 individual parts of serow (genus Capricornis), Malayan tiger (genus Panthera), clouded leopard (genus Neofelis), tapir (genus Tapirus), sun bear (genus Helarctos), golden cat ‎(genus Catopuma) and wild boar (genus Sus), in addition to 22 snares. 


Malayan tiger

Clouded leopard


Sun bear

Golden cat

Wild boar

There is hope that the above punishment can create a deterrent effect. It’s time we get serious about protecting our wildlife. 

It’s not as if this was an isolated incident. 

In March, Tran Van Sang, who was caught in Perak in August 2017, was sentenced to a total of 19 years jail and fined RM850,000 after being found guilty of 10 charges under the Wildlife Conservation Act. He was found to be in illegal possession of 273 wildlife parts including tiger, leopard, clouded leopard, sun bear and sambar deer. 

Another Vietnamese, Ho Van Kien, was sentenced to six years in jail and RM400,000 in fines by the Raub Session Court in Pahang after being found guilty of possession of one full tiger skin, a partial tiger skin, one leopard claw, and a sun bear claw, as well as 150g of tiger meat and 21.15 kg of wild boar meat. 

On March 13, 2018, a gang of heavily-armed poachers were arrested near the town of Gerik in the northern Malaysian state of Perak. They were caught with deer antlers and suspected tiger bones and they also found an elephant shot dead by them with its tusks ripped out.

The Cendol with the Money-back Guarantee

I discovered this cendol place on Friday! 

[Note: For non-Malaysians, cendol is an iced sweet dessert that contains green rice flour jelly noodles, coconut milk and palm sugar syrup and typically made on a base of shaved ice]. 

And this Nyonya Cendol place dares to make claims: that the cendol is made daily, they use fresh santan, no preservatives and no colouring. In fact, it has a 100% satisfaction or your money-back guarantee policy!

Indeed, I believe its claim – that it’s the best homemade cendol in town! 

Even better, you can add durian, nangka or cempedak, besides the usual pulut, jagung or ice cream. 

I had the cendol with cempedak and it cost me RM7.60 (RM4.80 + RM2.80) and yes, it was worth it!

M for Malaysia, a documentary feature film about the election that brought hope to the nation, is set to screen at two international film festivals – CAAMFest37 and DocEdge New Zealand. 

M for Malaysia made its world premiere at the Centre for Asian American Media Festival 2019 in San Francisco, USA on May 15, the largest showcase for new Asian American and Asian films. 

Following that, M for Malaysia is slated for a series of screening at DocEdge New Zealand: May 30 and June 02 in Auckland, and June 14 and 16 in Wellington. DocEdge New Zealand is an Academy Award-qualifying festival for feature and short documentaries – and it celebrates the best in domestic and international documentary films. 

M for Malaysia follows the then 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad on the campaign trail for 16 days leading up to Malaysia’s 14th General Election on May 9, 2018 – and he steered Pakatan Harapan to victory and became the oldest Prime Minister in the world. Malaysians had voted out a government that had ruled them for 60 years and voted in a new one headed by the octogenarian. 

The story of this triumph is one of unlikely coalitions, impossible odds and almost impassable barriers. But it is also the story of the tenacity and resilience of a people who rallied around Pakatan Harapan in order to effect change in the most democratic way: through the ballot box. 

Check out another M for Malaysia trailer:

Definitely, a must-watch!

The documentary is currently securing a release date for screening in Malaysian cinemas.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Pras Michel and Jho Low Indicted for Obama Contributions

Another celebrity got snared in the 1MDB web. 

This came about as the result of a sprawling DoJ investigation into fraud and corruption at the sovereign wealth fund that was intended to promote economic development in Malaysia but instead, treated like a massive slush fund by Jho Low (left), allegedly in cahoots with former Malaysian PM, Najib Razak. 

Prakazrel “Pras” Michel (right), one of the founding members of the hip-hop group the Fugees together with the fugitive Malaysian financier were accused of campaign-finance violations in a four-count indictment unsealed on May 10, 2019. 

It was reported that Jho Low had transferred $21.6 million from overseas to Michel between June and November 2012 "for the purpose of funneling significant sums of money into the United States presidential election". And according to the indictment, Michel and Low had concealed this fact from the intended recipients. 

Michel had allegedly paid about $865,000 to about 20 "straw donors" so they could make contributions in their names to a presidential joint fundraising committee. This was for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. 

FYI, it is illegal for foreign nationals to chip in to US election campaigns. 

Michel appeared in court in Washington last week Friday and pleaded not guilty. 

Jho Low, of course, remains at large and his whereabouts are unknown. 

Yesterday, I was in Bandar Sunway in Selangor for the Shine Toastmasters meeting. 

Of course, thanks to VP Education Selina Chong, I secured a speaking slot. And I presented an Advanced speech from the Special Occasion Speeches manual, project #3 The Roast titled The Dreamer.