Tuesday, August 20, 2019

They Can't Tell the Difference Between Pigeons and Crows

Johor's Majlis Perbandaran Pasir Gudang organized an “Operasi Menembak Burung Gagak” (Operation to Shoot Down Crows) – and on Saturday, their riflemen successfully slew 100 birds. 

MPPG posted pics of the kills and Facebook page Kelab Info Malaysia also shared photos of the hunters and the slaughtered birds.

The said municipality must surely be embarrassed or can I hope that they were anguished when they discovered that of the estimated 100 dead birds, at least ninety were pigeons! Poor innocent pigeons!

One netizen wrote: “You issue a notice to shoot crows, but instead, you opened fire at anything that flies in your path. The bullets must be free”. 

Another said: “It must be a trend nowadays to take pictures after you’ve done something stupid”. 

The upsetting point is the hired guns couldn’t differentiate between pigeons and crows! Dear oh dear!

Yesterday, I was at a Toastmasters demo meeting at BP-1-18, D'Alpinia Business Park in Puchong, Selangor. It was hosted by the LEAP Leadership Academy.

The meeting was well-attended and on top of that, twelve Toastmasters came to support, of whom half are Distinguished Toastmasters and senior Toastmasters at that – thereby almost guaranteeing a good meeting that offers bountiful learning. 

And yes, we did have a top-notch meeting. I sensed the elation, I felt the effusiveness and I recognized the enthusiasm:

Five days ago, I was invited by Zarina Abu Bakar to deliver a speech and of course, I gladly accepted. 

It was a CC#10 Inspire Your Audience titled The Eagles and the Sparrows and thus, I completed one more round of the Competent Communication manual – this was edition #59:

Measles Deadlier Than Ebola

Yesterday, I had blogged (again) about Ebola that has been haunting the Democratic Republic of Congo since August 2018. 

But Ebola is not the only worry Congolese need to worry about. Measles too.

Doctors Without Borders have declared that measles has killed 2,758 people in the wretched country since January. 

And only $2.5 million has been raised out of the $8.9 million required for the Health Cluster response plan – in stark contrast with the Ebola pandemic in the east of the country, which attracts multiple organizations and hundreds of millions of dollars in funding. 

On Saturday, the medical NGO that goes by their French acronym MSF appealed for a “massive mobilization of funds”, without which the current measles outbreak could get even worse. 

Note: Measles is a highly-contagious disease caused by infection with the rubeola virus – and it attacks mainly children. The most serious complications include blindness, brain swelling, diarrhoea, and severe respiratory infections. 

The disease, preventable with a vaccine, has infected over 145,000 people in the said country. 

MSF said the contagion has worsened since July 2019. They disclosed that they had vaccinated 474,860 children between the ages of six months and five years since the beginning of the year, and provided care to more than 27,000 measles patients. 

It is already acknowledged that this year, measles is killing more people, mostly children in the DRC than Ebola – and faster. 

DR Congo had already declared a measles epidemic this June – and this year todate, it is already the deadliest measles scourge since 2011-2012.

Image credit: Via Instagram/natgeoyourshot

The above is an award-winning ‘Mowgli Malaysia’ photo – it featured a fourteen-year-old Muhammad Syukur Khamis from Terengganu who became a viral sensation after his photos depicting his bond and love for his father’s buffaloes flourished on social media. 

The photographer, Mohd Nazri Sulaiman (left), clinched the grand prize (Street/People category) at the Asian Geographic: Images of Asia 2018 awards last November for the pic. 

The interesting image also earned Nazri the Remarkable Award at the 2018 Siena International Photography contest. 

And it has now been selected to be on display at the Austrian Cultural Forum in Rome, Italy from September 25.

Here's another swell Facebook pic of ‘Syukor Khamis – Kampong Boy':

Monday, August 19, 2019

1MDB Trial Postponed

LOL! The much-awaited and highly anticipated 1MDB trial of Najib Razak is NOT on today! 

High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah (left) adjourned the said trial  also dubbed the 1MDB-Tanore trial  to next Monday, August 26. 

He had allowed the application by former Federal Court Judge Gopal Sri Ram, who was appointed as senior deputy public prosecutor, to postpone the trial as the prosecution had just served 15 bundles of documents and witness statements to the defense. 

Sri Ram (right) said it was also to give way for the SRC International Sdn Bhd trial to be completed first. 

The year-long Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has spread to a new province, with two cases – one of them fatal – confirmed in South Kivu. 

The authenticated cases were reported in the Mwenga area, some way south of the city of Bukavu, which sits on the country’s eastern border with Rwanda. The latest cases, which have been concentrated around the cities of Beni and Butembo, follow recent deaths from the disease in the major city of Goma. 

The Ebola outbreak in eastern DRC has now killed 1,808 people out of 2,765 verified cases, according to the ministry of health (as reported in The Guardian, August 16, 2019) – although WHO reported 1,913 fatalities as at August 14.

Hong Kong Protests Persist

Protesters throw bricks after police fired tear gas at them during clashes in Wong Tai Shin area in Hong Kong, China, August 05, 2019. Image credit: Miguel Candela/EPA via Shutterstock 

Riot police deploy tear gas to disperse demonstrators during a protest in Wan Chai district of Hong Kong, on August 11, 2019. Image credit: Kyle Lam/Bloomberg 

Riot police in Nathan Road in Mong Kok, Hong Kong, August 17, 2019. Image credit: Reuters

Organizers claim 1.7 million protesters were on the streets on August 18, 2019. Image credit: South China Morning Post

In Hong Kong, the protests persist and the violence is escalating. 

Battles between police firing tear gas and rubber bullets – and hardcore protesters using rocks, Molotov cocktails and slingshots – have since become fairly routine in a city once renowned for its stability. 

It all began as a grievance against the now-shelved extradition bill but it has since then moved on to gripe about police brutality, a housing crisis and the fight for Hong Kong to remain Hong Kong and not become just another Chinese city. 

Right or wrong, the protesters are missing the point. 

They have gotten carried away as if under a Voldemort spell – and conveniently forgetting the fact that they live in Hong Kong, China! 

Despite all the Union Jacks and Stars and Stripes daringly flown by protesters – I don’t even understand why – it is undeniable that Hong Kong is undeniably a part of China. 

They want to fight for freedom – and yet, they fail to recognize that China is not a democracy in the first place and never has been. So, their demand for even a semblance of democracy is unworkable and unreal. 

Hmmm, can somebody please tell these young people that like it or not, they have to accept the truth that they have to be less free to stay free in Hong Kong? 

BTW, how long can they stay on the streets and keep protesting? 

Methinks China doesn't have to do anything – and the protesters by their daily acts of defiance will bring Hong Kong to its knees. It’s just a matter of time.

Pakatan Harapan's Broken Promise on Lynas

Anti-Lynas protesters slammed the government's U-turn in allowing an operating licence extension for the rare earth company at a rally in Taman Gelora in Kuantan, Pahang on Sunday. 

Close to five hundred people showed up to express their displeasure and they took aim at the silent MPs and assemblypersons by chanting the Hakka term "Jon loi lo", which means "Come back". 

Save Malaysia, Stop Lynas chairperson Tan Bun Teet said when the government did a volte-face, many of the elected representatives who had previously opposed Lynas had kept quiet, which was why the participants hollered at them to come back.

One placard had a caricature of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad which read "environmental colonialism" and another placard written in the Chinese calligraphy style, held by DAP assemblyperson Ronnie Liu, contained a mocking message aimed at the federal government. 

"While loving the people like his own child, money is also his child", the message read. 

Liu, who is the Sungai Pelek assemblyperson, hails from Raub, Pahang.

They also featured a show where a cardboard cut-out of a bus with the words "Pakatan Mungkir Janji" was brought around on repeated U-turns. Cardboard faces of Pakatan Harapan leaders Mahathir Mohamad, Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang and Mohamad Sabu were put on board the bus. 

The rally ended with some of the attendees tearing up promise 39 of the PH manifesto, which stated PH's commitment to protect the people's welfare and promote environmental sustainability as well as not to be dictated by large corporations and their crony capitalists. 

When asked why the plan to burn the manifesto was dropped, Tan said he heeded the advice of Mahathir and environmentalists and chose a different way to show their dissatisfaction. 

The Prime Minister had reportedly said it would not resolve anything just by burning manifestos. 

Among the PH elected representatives present at the rally were Bentong MP Wong Tack and Pahang assemblypersons Sim Chon Siang, Lee Chean Chung, Chow Yu Hui and Chiong Yoke Kong.

In the Scottish League Cup second round on Saturday, Celtic edged Dunfermline 2-1. 

Phew, James Forrest's strike in the 114th minute had saved the former the blushes. 

In the fifty-fifth minute, Mikey Johnston's cross-cum-shot had put Celtic in front, only to see that goal crossed out twenty-two minutes later to force extra-time. 

Celtic will now progress to the quarter-finals.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Mahathirism is Back with a Vengeance

Last Monday, Charles Santiago (left) called for a review of the decision-making process by the Pakatan Harapan Presidential Council – in the wake of decisions made by the government that seems to be at odds with the aspirations of Malaysian voters who rallied behind PH in GE14. 

Know that we gave our support for PH because we subscribed to the articles of faith and rakyat-focused pledges the coalition made when they asked for our votes. 

The Klang parliamentarian was being both honest and blunt. He said there appears to be too much power in the hands of the prime minister, which should instead be shared equally among the PH component parties. 

He made it clear that “we can’t get rid of former prime minister Najib Razak only to become just like him”. 

What he really meant – and I agree with him – is that the way things are going, it would appear that Mahathirism is back with a vengeance. 

True enough! Reading between the lines the many decisions the cabinet has made thus far reflect the unilateral actions of one man (right) with his band of Bersatu bootlickers in tow whilst the others, whether from PKR, Amanah and/or DAP mostly shut up and just kowtow to the prime minister. 

The Pakatan Harapan government clearly don’t have a good track record to retain the confidence of the people anymore. 

Methinks PH are a lost cause. 

Lynas is a case in point. 

Seven DAP assemblypersons from Pahang remain steadfast in their opposition to the resumption of operations at the Gebeng plant of rare earth producer Lynas Malaysia.

They are Bilut assemblyman Lee Chin Chen, Young Syefura Othman (Ketari), Kamache Doray Rajoo (Sabai), Chow Yu Hui (Tras), Chiong Yoke Kong (Tanah Rata), Woo Chee Wan (Mentakab) and Leong Yu Man (Triang). 

They boldly questioned the government regarding the election manifesto of balancing economic growth with environmental protection in light of Lynas' continued operation. 

The state assemblypersons had also affirmed their support for Bentong MP Wong Tack (left), who continues to voice out against Lynas' operations. 

And the DAP members in the PH cabinet have disappointed Malaysians by their abject acquiescence. 

One of them, Teresa Kok (left) – also DAP deputy secretary-general and one of the 13 ministers who signed a pledge in 2012 to shut down Lynas Malaysia when they were part of the opposition  even had the cheek to shoot back and asked: “Isn’t that enough to tell you that we gave chance to Lynas to improve and fulfill the conditions?” 

Teresa Kok, WTF are you even talking about? Stop talking cock lah! 

No to Lynas, period!

Gun Violence and Mental Health

On Monday, Donald Trump remarked: "Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun". 

Meaning, gun control is not the answer. 

On Thursday, he framed gun violence as a mental illness problem. And he said he wanted to build more mental institutions. 

“We can't let these people be on the streets”, he maintained. 

In response, mental health experts repeated what they have said after previous mass shootings: Most people with mental illness are not violent, they are far more likely to be victims of violent crime than perpetrators, and access to firearms is a big part of the problem. 

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fewer than 5% of the 120,000 gun-related killings in the US from 2001 to 2010 were perpetrated by people diagnosed with mental illness. 

Experts have also balked at the idea of mental health treatment – let alone institutionalization – as a solution to gun violence. 

Adam Lankford, a University of Alabama criminologist who published a 2016 analysis of data from 171 countries took the position that a country's rate of gun ownership is a far better predictor of public mass shootings than indicators of mental illness. 

"If mental illness were the driving factor, we would expect the countries with highest suicide rates to have higher rates of public mass shootings. That's not what we see", Lankford had added. 

Arthur Evans, chief executive officer of the American Psychological Association agreed: "Although the United States makes up less than 5% of the world's population, we are home to 31% of all mass shooters globally, according to a CNN analysis. This difference is not explained by the rate of mental illness in the US”. 

The one stark difference? Access to guns. 

Methinks Trump (left) oversimplifies the role of mental illness in public mass shootings and downplays the ease with which his fellow citizens can get guns. 

Really, he should admit himself into a funny farm first because he is, definitely, a loco.

In Saturday’s EPL must-win game against Southampton, Liverpool ground out a 2-1 win. 

To be honest, the Reds were awful. Except for the brilliance of the two goals we scored.

Sadio Mane fired a curling effort into the far corner in the forty-fifth minute for our first goal. And in the seventy-first minute, Roberto Firmino blasted in the second. 

An Adrian howler let Saints sneaked one in twelve minutes later. It must be a Liverpool thing because last season, Alison did the same!

I’m certainly relieved that we beat Southampton. A draw or worse, a loss would have been unacceptable – not when Manchester City are the most relentless points-gathering, big-spending, transfer-ban-dodging English team of all time. As somebody said, even a draw would seem like a defeat; a defeat would feel like a derailment.