Sunday, December 15, 2019

On a Collision Course

In the aftermath of Boris Johnson’s landslide general election victory, Scottish National Party’s Nicola Sturgeon (right) had phoned him on Friday to caution him that he cannot expect to “bludgeon” Scotland into conforming to his world view. 

“I pointed out to him, politely of course after I congratulated him, that the Scottish Tories, having fought the election on the single issue of opposition to an independence referendum, had lost – lost vote share, lost more than half of their seats”. 

Sturgeon said: “It was a watershed election on Thursday and it’s very clear that Scotland wants a different future to the one chosen by much of the rest of the UK”.

Furthermore, “it couldn’t really be any clearer from the results of this election that Scotland doesn’t want a Boris Johnson government, it doesn’t want to leave the European Union and it wants to be able to determine its own future, whatever that future turns out to be”. 

Sturgeon reiterated that the UK should only continue to exist by consent – if the Scottish people want it to, that is. 

“This idea that the Tories can just say no and sort of imprison Scotland in a union against its will, I just don’t think will hold”, said the first minister. 

“So if Boris Johnson has confidence in the case for the union and the UK, and for Scotland staying part of that, he should have the guts to make that case and let people decide”. 

Sturgeon added: “There is no doubt that the prospect of a Boris Johnson government for the next five years is worrying for people. It’s a grim reality and in my view, it makes that case for Scotland being able to choose something different all the more urgent and all the more important”. 

Downing Street, on the other hand, had clarified in no uncertain terms that the prime minister (left) had used Friday’s call to make clear that he “remained opposed” to a second independence referendum. 

There's no doubt that Johnson’s intransigence on IndyRef2 has set him on a collision course with the SNP.

On Saturday, the Premier League leaders made it 16 wins out of 17 with a 2-0 win over Watford. 

A quick Liverpool counter-attack from a Hornets’ corner saw Sadio Mane play Mohamed Salah through, with the Reds forward cutting back onto his right foot and scooping the ball into the back of the net in the thirty-eighth minute. The Egyptian netted his second goal after substitute Divock Origi’s miskick fell to him, who then cleverly flicked the ball into the back of the net in the ninetieth minute to wrap up the game. 

Another three points. A clean sheet. Job done.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Transformation Theme for WSD 2020

It took us nineteen days to discuss, develop and agree on the World Speech Day theme for 2020. Finally. 

On March 15, 2020, let’s speak on it – Transformation. 

And the speech is anywhere between 2 to 5 minutes long. 

#unexpectedvoices #worldspeechday

Scotland Wins on December 12

The 2019 UK general election saw the Scottish National Party winning more seats than in 2017. 

This emphatic victory promises to set up a renewed clash over the UK’s future. 

Of course, we know that the Tory majority at Westminster means one constitutional quarrel – Brexit – might be over, but another – on Scottish independence – will be back with a vengeance. 

That’s because the SNP won 48 of the 59 parliamentary seats available in Scotland. This result is expected to galvanize the party in their pursuit of the independence referendum – and which SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon (right) says is necessary after Scotland opposed leaving the European Union. 

Boris Johnson, like his predecessor Theresa May, has consistently resisted pressure from the SNP-led administration in Edinburgh for another independence vote. But the last one, when Scots chose to stay in the UK in 2014, was before the vote to leave the EU. 

Sturgeon made stopping Brexit and giving Scotland the right to dictate its own future the cornerstone of her party’s campaign. 

Just as Johnson has a mandate for Brexit, Sturgeon has a mandate for Scottish independence. 

Moreover, Scottish parliamentary elections are also due in 2021, when the SNP could reinforce their mandate for a referendum. If Sturgeon wins big again in May 2021, Johnson will be unable to resist a second independence referendum. 

Let’s do it – and set Scotland free! 

I am not into Abstract Art – but this episode of "The Way I See It" obliges me to view it more appreciatively. 

Actor and comedian Steve Martin looks at paintings by two early pioneers of American abstraction and takes us on a journey of seeing – shape and color transform into mountains, sky, and water:

Friday, December 13, 2019

Boris Johnson Wins Big

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s gamble to trigger a snap poll on December 12 to unite the Brexit vote paid off magnificently. 

The Conservatives gained support in most corners of England and Wales – and scores of long-held Labour seats fell like ninepins. 

And the final result: Conservatives secured 365 seats, Labour 203 – their worst result since 1935, the Scottish National Party 48, the Liberal Democrats 11, the Democratic Unionist Party 8, Sinn Fein 7, Plaid Cymru 4, the SDLP 2, the Green Party 1, and the Alliance Party 1.

For Tories, it was a convincing victory that comes with a very handsome majority. ‘Twas the party’s best result since Margaret Thatcher’s third election win in 1987, 

The big triumph means Johnson can make sure Brexit happens next month. 

And he proclaimed with immeasurable pride: “Brexit was now the “irrefutable, irresistible, unarguable decision of the British people”. 

For sure, the 2019 election turned out exactly as billed – the Brexit election. And the landscape of British politics shifts – but not necessarily for the better. 

On Thursday, Celtic slipped to their first defeat in seven Europa League games this season when CFR Cluj defeated them 2-0 in Romania. 

With top spot and qualification for the last 32 assured, manager Neil Lennon had opted for a team that lacked game time and, in some cases, experience too.

Mr Bean, J'adore and Technology

Christian Dior had shot a sensually stunning ad that starred Charlize Theron, to market the J'adore Absolu fragrance:

Now check out another version where Rowan Atkinson (of Mr Bean and Blackadder fame) was deepfaked into it:

Lots of people say it is better than the original! 

Yes, technology can be scary!

This morning, I was back to my usual breakfast routine. My nasi lemak and Coke combo: 

Last evening, I was at the D’Utama Advanced Toastmasters meeting in Petaling Jaya, Selangor  my 6th Toastmasters meeting this week. 

And whaddya know, Foong Weng Tuck was the Toastmaster! His baritone voice boomed and echoed throughout the classroom. 

I could imagine it to be akin to a lightning storm with rolling thunder – indeed, he electrified the meeting. You can be sure all of us were wide-eyed and alert, LOL! 

I’ve not seen him in ages and it was good to meet up with him. Still, hensem and looking good.

I took part in Table Topics and it was nice to be voted Best Speaker from amongst the fivesome who took part in the impromptu speaking session: 

Overall, a good meeting:

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Don't Croak

In my Toastmasters speeches, I have made many speeches about cockroaches – but there has been speeches about frogs too! 

The CGI animated short film: "Don't Croak" contains ideas and messages which I too have touched upon in different speeches I’ve made – besides the fact that “death” is one of my favorite topics! – so do check it out:
I guess the lesson here is “There’s no escaping from death”!

One of those rare days when my breakfast is NOT the nasi lemak and Coke combo. This morning, it was Maggi Mi Kari (double portion) and Coke:

I drink Coke every day, if you must know. And it is not an addiction; it's my love!

This afternoon, I was in Jalan Yong Shook Lin in Petaling Jaya, Selangor for the IJM Toastmasters meeting. VP Education K Maheindran had kindly given me a speaking opportunity for me – and it was nice to make a return visit to this Club.

Additionally, I was the Toastmaster.  

I am grateful I could speak and of course, I did. I presented a CC#10 Inspire Your Audience speech titled Imagine. 

In a way, it was loosely inspired by John Lennon’s Imagine. Except that I incorporated a Toastmasters' context to the speech.

BTW, I was voted Best Speaker.

And, thus, I have completed yet another round of the Competent Communication manual #62: 

A speech marathon with 5 awesome speakers. They were all good, if I may add. 

Photos of the said Toastmasters meeting: