Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Serving Notice for World Speech Day 2020

Hey, people! World Speech Day is returning to Malaysia! 

Keep March 15 free y’all because the public speaking event of the year is back! 

I was in Subang Jaya last evening to attend the USJ Toastmasters meeting. This time the venue was at Main Place in USJ 21:

I had met club president, Sajni Dharamdass at the Shah Alam Toastmasters meeting last week – and without prompting, she kindly offered me a speaking slot. Of course, she knew I would be most pleased to speak at her club and I gratefully accepted the offer. 

I delivered a CC#5 titled A Happy Death. 

In fact, she made the request for me to do this Your Body Speaks speech and it turned out quite well. 

And I was volunteered to take part in Table Topics and in the end, I was voted Best TT Speaker: 

Not only that but I was also given a role play assignment for Radzi Yusof’s Pathways speech – where I was one of five disrupters, i.e. the Talker – the others being the Interrupter, the Chatterer, the Arguer and the Silent Type. I gave the speaker hell as I was supposed to. 

Anyway, photos of the said meeting yesterday:

The Yearly Haze that Suffocates Malaysia

Almost every year, a smoky, smoggy haze suffocates the Southeast Asian region – signalling the return of forest fires in Indonesia. 

For many in this region – and I live here – gloomy grey skies and a lingering acrid smell are not unfamiliar, but 2019 has already brought with it some of the worst haze levels in years.

According to Indonesia's national disaster agency, there were 328,724 hectares of land burnt this year from January to August alone. And according to ASEAN satellite data, there were 1,619 active fires in Indonesia on September 11. 

The Indonesians know this very well – and what they’re doing to stop it so far is puny, pathetic and pitiable. Obviously, dumping millions of liters of water in affected areas and sending in the army to help fire fighters is plainly not enough. 

Maybe they should draw the voluminous water from the Straits of Malacca and dispatch the entire frigging Indonesian army! 

We know the worst conflagration can be found in Central, West and South Kalimantan, Riau, Jambi and South Sumatra. And the burning usually peaks from July to October during Indonesia's dry season. 

Many farmers and plantation companies take advantage of the conditions to clear vegetation using the slash-and-burn method. They often spin out of control and spread into protected forested areas. 

The burnt lands also become drier, which makes them more likely to catch fire the next time there are slash-and-burn clearings. If that is not bad enough, the forest fires have destroyed much of the natural habitat of Indonesia's already critically endangered orang-utans as well as released towering spirals of carbon into the atmosphere.

The country has for years promised to step up enforcement. 

If you can remember that in 2015, Indonesia suffered its worst forest fires for almost two decades, which dramatically increased its greenhouse gas emissions. 

Evidently, the said country did not learn from the 2015 crisis that cost it $16 billion (£12 billion) and caused more than half a million people to endure respiratory ailments. In fact, a state of emergency was even declared. 

In September of that year, Indonesian President Joko Widodo (left) told the BBC his country needed at least three years to tackle the haze as it was "not a problem you can solve quickly". 

Nearly four years later, the forests in Indonesia continue to burn. 

Everybody’s predicament is still the same old, same old! What say, you, Mr President?

I had blogged about the Amazon fires on August 25 – but seemingly, I had kept quiet about the Indonesian fires  until today. 

That’s only because I am sick and tired and fed up and up to here with this yearly event. 

Our governments are quick to spit out the Pollutants Standards Index and the similar Air Pollutants Index measurements to tell us in our face how unhealthy the air is – and then they make sympathetic noises before giving out face masks and do selected cloud seeding – but that’s it. 

Malaysia’s New Straits Times on Monday reported that Indonesia sealed off dozens of plantations last week where smog-belching fires were blazing, and warned that owners – including Malaysia and Singapore-based firms – could face criminal charges if there was evidence of illegal burning. 

A BBC report dated September 16 had spotlighted 10 corporations as suspects this year, and said the government are investigating more than 100 individuals. 

Malaysia’s Energy, Science, Technology, Environment, and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin (right) even reportedly said: “According to reports that I have read, there are about 30 companies responsible for the forest fires in Indonesia” (New Straits Times, September 14, 2019). 

Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar (left) announced that her country sealed off plantation lands belonging to companies of which three are Malaysian and one Singaporean. She identified the Indonesian units of Malaysian firms as Sime Indo Agro, Rafi Kamajaya, Sukses Karya Sawit and Adei Plantation and Industry, while PT Hutan Ketapang Industri is linked to a Singapore company. 

Just as quickly, Yeo’s colleague, Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok (left) expressed her displeasure against Indonesia's punitive action on lands belonging to subsidiaries of the Malaysian oil palm plantation companies. And she stoutly defended them on Friday. Please lah, investigate first before shooting your mouth off! 

These Malaysian entities are Sime Darby Plantation Berhad, IOI Corporation, TDM Berhad and Kuala Lumpur Kepong Group. Both the first two companies made denials (EdgeProp, September 14, 2019), the third kept silent and the fourth had admitted one hotspot area covering 2.8 hectares of the 14,400 hectares estate managed by PT Adei (New Straits Times, September 14, 2019). 

Whether the culpable culprits are Indonesian, Malaysian and/or Singaporean companies – we need governments to take immediate action to punish the offenders and mobilize all assets to extinguish the fires! Goddamnit, everybody is suffering in the meantime!

Enough of the bullshit the governments have been dispensing to their citizens. The fires and the accompanying haze is a permanent feature in our calendar. 

In this matter of the haze, we are hopelessly helpless.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Funny, Funny Janey Godley

Janey Godley (right) is a Scottish stand-up comedian and writer from Calton, Glasgow – and in case, you’re not aware, she has had years of five-star reviews and sold-out gigs behind her. 

Anyway, I’m sharing the political voiceovers she posts online and they have been more than well-received – and believe me, if you can get past the heavy Glaswegian accent – you’ll discover they are all gems.
And I love Godley even more because she has strong opinions about Boris Johnson and Donald Trump – she calls a spade a spade. 

Her humor revolves around her life. And her life was troubled, turbulent and traumatic. 

The youngest of four, Godley was raised by an alcoholic father and a chaotic, debt-prone mother in the East End of Glasgow. She was systematically abused by an uncle throughout her childhood, left school without any qualifications and was married at 19 to the son of a local gangster. Her mother died in 1982, when Godley was 21, murdered, her daughter believes, by her violent boyfriend, who was never charged by the police despite her family’s protestations. 

“I had nits, scabies, we were poor”, she says bluntly of her childhood. “I remember eating out of bins and being a teenager with dirty clothes. But I was bright and I loved reading, so I had the chance to escape. And I’m not ashamed of it, because it wasn’t my fault”. 

That is one of the reasons she does the free fringe (her gigs have an honesty bucket at the exit). 

“I love the fact that people who are pure skint can come through from Glasgow and see a free show, because it’s a very elite business”. 

Note: The excerpts of her early life were taken from The Guardian, published August 19, 2019.

The Scottish comedienne has drawn on her horrific Glaswegian childhood to create comedy gold. She talks about saying the unsayable, as well as taking on Johnson and Trump. 

“I spoke about my Ma being murdered, child abuse, gangsters. Back then, even comics were saying: ‘You shouldn’t talk about that.’ But I’m so glad I did. The amount of people that came up to me and said: ‘I was abused and I’ve never laughed before.’ One of the most important things about comedy is nobody gets to tell you what you can joke about, as long as you’re punching up and not punching down”. 

Janey Godley: One helluva extraordinary woman.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Boris Johnson Compares Himself to The Hulk

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces massive political and legal obstacles in relation to Brexit but he continues to hang tough and act tough. 

In fact, in a The Mail on Sunday interview published yesterday, he said he was adamant to meet the October 31 deadline no matter what. 

Then he compared himself to The Hulk and declared he is ready to break free of the EU’s “manacles”. OMG, OMG, OMG!!!

“The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets”, Johnson told the widely read tabloid, invoking the comic-book and film character known for formidable but destructive strength. 

“Banner might be bound in manacles, but when provoked he would explode out of them. Hulk always escaped, no matter how tightly bound in he seemed to be – and that is the case for this country. We will come out on October 31 and we will get it done”. 

[Note: Bruce Banner is the character of the same name and known commonly by his alter ego, The Hulk]. 

Honestly, the comments read like something out of a comic book themselves. 

Besides, Bruce Banner really doesn't like being the Hulk. It is something of a burden and a curse that he carries after being involved in a radioactive blast that turns him into a frenzied and furious green monster. Because of the Hulk, Banner struggles to make significant connections and friends in his life which constantly forces him into exile as he attempts to find a compromise between the two clashing aspects of his troubled identity. 

And Johnson's blustering bravado was delivered the day before he is due to travel to Luxembourg for talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker (left) – in pursuit of a Brexit deal. 

The madcap juxtaposition between Johnson and The Hulk prompted twin expressions of disapproving disgust and austere annoyance in Brussels.

Guy Verhofstadt (right), the chief Brexit representative for the European parliament, was compelled to tweet: “Even to Trumpian standards the Hulk comparison is infantile. Is the EU supposed to be scared by this? The British public impressed? Is this Boris Johnson whistling in the dark?” 

Incredible Hulk actor Mark Ruffalo (left) also weighed in and he suggested Johnson’s metaphor was ill-conceived. 

"Boris Johnson forgets that the Hulk only fights for the good of the whole. Mad and strong can also be dense and destructive. The Hulk works best when he is in unison with a team, and is a disaster when he is alone", he clarified. 

Juncker, who has downplayed hopes of a breakthrough at Monday’s meeting, also expressed alarm that many people in the UK seem to feel a British departure without a deal with the EU would be a positive thing. 

“It would be terrible chaos”, he had said in an interview with Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio. “And we would need years to put things back in order. Anyone who loves his country, and I assume that there are still patriots in Britain, would not want to wish his country such a fate”.

Boris Johnson doesn't give a damn. 

He just stampedes through. Much like a raging bull in a china shop.

I'm feeling really sorry for his country. 

Disney's Peranakan Fare with Mickey and Minnie

In the second Mickey Go Local episode titled Peranakan Spice, we are introduced to Minnie Mouse. 

Here, Minnie wants to be the perfect “nonya” and cook up a storm for her beau. Mickey wants to be the perfect “baba” and take all the spice! 

But Minnie misreads the recipe and adds way too much chillis in her “rempah” – and poor Mickey sweats and flushes.

After their dalliance with Donald Trump and the US, Hong Kong protesters now turn to their former colonial masters, Britain, seeking support. 

Some of them were even eager to pledge allegiance to the United Kingdom, chanting: “We are British and we will never surrender” and “Rule, Britannia!” And waved Union Jacks and sang “God Save the Queen”. 

This whole protest thing is bordering on the ridiculous!