Saturday, September 26, 2020

Malaysians Must Know Their Frogs


Not all frog species jump. Therefore, it is important that Malaysians know their frogs!

Friday, September 25, 2020

A-Chomping and A-Munching

The Giant panda (Scientific name: Ailuropoda melanoleuca; Chinese: 大熊猫; pinyin: dàxióngmāo) with its distinctive black and white coat, is adored the world over and considered a national treasure in China. 

I venture to suggest that pandas have many fans not just because they look cute – but that many people can actually relate to them! 

I mean, pandas are "lazy" – eating and sleeping makes their day. In fact, a 45-kilo adult (and pandas can reach 150kg in captivity) spends as long as 14 hours eating. And it can eat 12 to 38 kilos of bamboo a day. 

And so, I’m posting these two video clips – one shows a panda loudly chomping on a carrot (Scientific name: Daucus carota subsp. sativus) and the other munching on a bamboo (Scientific name: Bambusoideae):


Believe it or not but I’m onto my third carrot as I watch the said videos, especially the first clip again and again! I can’t explain it but I’m enjoying these moments. 

Strange as it may be but it does seem to me that the panda and I are sharing the same space at the same time and partaking of the same thing! 

This reminds me of the “mukbang” fad – a trend that dates back to 2009 and has its origins in South Korea. 

It is a portmanteau of the words. “muk-ja”, which means eating and “bang-song”, which translates to broadcast – and mukbang videos first popped up on Afreeca TV, a live streaming Korean Internet TV service. 

The essence of these videos basically involves online personalities eating copious amounts of food, purely for the sake of entertaining viewers. 

Many mukbang fans agree that these videos make them feel as though they are “eating” too. 

Sometimes when I am hungry and there’s no food around and I’m just too lazy to go out to find food, watching mukbang helps to “fill me up”. 

There are even those who claim that mukbang is the best way to curb cravings, especially when you know you can’t get your hands on them. And you get to feel satisfied, supposedly.

Backdoor PM Boasts His Grand Coalition to Win Sabah

All eyes on Malaysia’s Sabah state election. 

Two days before Sabahans make their choice, backdoor Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin boasted that a landslide victory is widely anticipated for his grand coalition that he calls Gabungan Rakyat Sabah. 

Tomorrow is D-Day. We have to put our trust in the citizens of the state to do the right thing and cast their votes wisely. 

On Thursday, Liverpool kicked off their EFL Cup campaign when they took on Lincoln City in the third round – where they thrashed the latter 7-2. 

Xherdan Shaqiri unleashed the first of seven Liverpool goals with a brilliant ninth-minute free-kick into the top corner. Nine minutes later, Takumi Minamino curled home from outside the box. In the thirty-second minute, Curtis Jones scored from Divock Origi's cushioned header and four minutes after that, he scored again to give the Reds an unassailable 4-0 half-time lead. 

Liverpool were quick on their feet and Minamino scored a volley seconds after the restart. In the sixty-fifth minute, Marko Grujic drilled home from 20 yards and Origi for the second time smashed home from a Minamino pass in the eighty-ninth minute. 

As Jurgen Klopp told BBC Radio 5 Live: "We played a really good football game tonight. It was easy on the eye”. Of course, a nine-goal fest makes it a very watchable game! 

Also yesterday, Celtic edged past Riga FC to reach the Europa League play-off round. 

They won by a solitary goal when Jeremie Frimpong did a terrific run and crossed for substitute Mohamed Elyounoussi to steer the ball into the net in the ninetieth minute. 

BBC Scotland’s Thomas Duncan had described the game as a painfully one-paced display against the stuffy Latvian champions. Certainly, it wasn’t an easy game for the Scottish champions because they really struggled to create chances. 

Next is Sunday's Scottish Premiership match with Hibernian as Celtic aim to maintain pace with Rangers at the top of the table.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

32 Million Cases

According to the worldometers website, the world has thirty-two million confirmed cases of Covid-19 – 32,085,787 to be precise – and 981,284 deaths as at September 24, 2020, 00:00 GMT.

And those countries with 100,000 or more cases have now swelled from the previous 36 countries to 38.

It’s frightening what Donald Trump is teaching American kids!


Anyway, there's more alarming news from him. 

On Wednesday, Trump wouldn’t commit to providing a peaceful transition of power after Election Day – lending further fuel to concerns he may not relinquish his office should he lose this November. 

But I’m actually expecting him to win – so that issue won’t arise, LOL!

Speaking in Impromptu Settings

I've said at the World Speakers' Coalition Kuala Lumpur – it's a speaking club, if you don't already know – meeting yesterday that I hope to make some notes on the topics and techniques we'll be covering in our meetings. Therefore, let me share what I’ve learned so far on this subject of impromptu speaking. 
I must refer you to Matt Abrahams, author of “Speaking up without Freaking Out” – his pointers on speaking in impromptu settings are valid and for sure, helpful. 

It is pretty common for many of us to have anxieties when we are suddenly called upon to speak on the spur of the moment. Here are 3 reasons why speakers are less confident when we have to shoot from the hip: 

  • Our nerves get the better of us 
  • We’re in our own way 
  • We see the interaction as an obstacle to overcome 

So how can we speak more confidently? 

The reality is that spontaneous speaking requires us to think on our feet, quickly identifying both what you’re going to say and the best way to deliver the information. Fortunately, once we understand why impromptu speaking presents such a challenge, we can use cognitive reframing techniques to dish out comebacks that address the topic(s). 

Cognitive reframing is a method of changing the way in which we habitually evaluate and revert appropriately to situations. By altering the way we think about something – essentially reprogramming our brains to view challenging circumstances in a different way – we can shift our instinctual reactions and responses. 

Three specific approaches can help us confront the challenges identified earlier and become more confident impromptu speakers. 

  • Reframe the event as a conversation, rather than a performance. 
  • Instead of trying to wow the crowd, aim to accomplish only the task at hand. 
  • View the audience as a friend, not a foe. 

Time and time again, research has shown that effective communication skills are critical to success and satisfaction in our personal and professional lives. And since the vast majority of communication situations have some unpremediated elements to them, it is imperative that we become more confident, compelling and connected in these impromptu communication situations. 

For sure, it takes time and effort but, once you’ve mastered these techniques, you’ll be just as eloquent and engaging off-the-cuff as you are when you’ve spent days or weeks preparing those three-to-five-minute speeches.


WSC Kuala Lumpur's Maiden Meeting

Yesterday, World Speakers' Coalition Kuala Lumpur had their maiden meeting. 

Not surprisingly, Cyril Jonas decided on a “familiar” venue in Jalan Bangkung, Bangsar, i.e. Jarrod & Rawlins. Nine members came we missed you, Alan Chew! and the clinking of glasses signalled the formal start of our meeting. 

Our convener was of course, Cyril and we brainstormed, discussed and mapped the direction we're going to take this Club. 

Of course, no meeting is complete without speeches. Suriakumar started the ball rolling by speaking on a "random" topic and all of us took turns to speak. And lo and behold, we surprised ourselves with how our speeches panned out. These speeches had humor, irony, real-life insights, self-reflection, personal anecdotes and more. Indeed, a speaking session in an impromptu setting.   

I think it is a great idea to kick off with a session that expects us to make speeches that are unprepared, unscripted and unrehearsed. I'm sure we all know that it’s much harder for speakers to demonstrate aplomb in spontaneous communication settings than in prepared addresses – but in this club, everyone rose to the occasion. And believe me, there were not a few members whose eloquence blew everyone away. 

All in all, it was a meeting that gave us a platform to freely speak, share and say our piece in a wine-and-dine setting where we bantered, jested and just had fun!

The main highlight of the meeting was the handing out of Charter certificates – and herewith is a copy of my very first WSC document. Priceless.


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Mozzies Adapt to Survive and Flourish

Aedes mosquitoes (Scientific name: Aedes aegypti) in Malaysia have adapted their behaviour in the last 20 years to circumvent efforts to extinguish them. 

This fact was quoted by an expert in medical entomology that was originally published in Sin Chew Daily and reprinted in The Star (p 14) on Monday. 

Dr Lee Yean Wang (right) who wrote his PhD thesis on Aedes control, said these mozzies have learnt how to scramble indoors and hide safely as and when fogging is carried out. 

Data in the last 5 years indicated that more Malaysians were bitten by these bloodsuckers indoors rather than outdoors. The situation was made worse by the tendency of homeowners to shut windows and doors whenever a fogging was done. 

This, he said, would create a “safe haven” for the insects. He also added that rising temperatures over the last few decades had led to a change in their behavior. 

“Aedes mosquitoes will bite at a temperature of between 24-degree Celsius and 30-degree Celsius. However, they are most active between 26 degree Celsius and 28 degree Celsius”, he said. 

Okay, noted! 

An update on BRZRKR’s Kickstarter campaign. 

If you don’t know what it’s all about, kindly go and check my post “BRZRKR Sets Earnings Record in First 24 Hours” published September 07, 2020. 

Just saw this when I went to the Kickstarter website! With 8 days remaining, BRZRKR has already secured 9,610 backers and accrued $1,005,863 worth of pre-orders todate! That is what I call a massive success! 

Keanu Reeves rocks!

Environmental Groups in Facebook’s Crosshairs

Facebook are up to their nonsense again. This time, environmental groups are in their crosshairs. 

They had supposedly started an initiative to counter a wave of misinformation over climate science – and yet, they suspended the accounts of environmental organizations on their social media platform. 

Groups such as Greenpeace USA, Climate Hawks Vote and Rainforest Action Network were among those blocked from posting or sending messages on Facebook over the weekend. Activists say hundreds of other individual accounts linked to indigenous, climate and social justice groups were also suspended for an alleged “intellectual property rights violation”. 

That’s bullshit because videos of extreme violence, alt-right views and calls for violence by militias in the US are still allowed on Facebook – but not those fighting to defend the environment. 

Thankfully, many of the accounts have now been restored – although a number are still blocked, with no fuller explanation coming from Facebook. The said company steadfastly maintained they are committed to tackling climate misinformation – but climate organizations have questioned whether Facebook are doing enough to cut down on untruths about the climate crisis that are being spread across the site. 

In 2018, for example, a video that denied that human activity was driving the climate crisis was shared on Facebook and viewed 5 million times. 

Articles and videos about climate change can be deemed opinion, meaning under Facebook guidelines they can’t be blocked by its fact-checkers. This loophole meant that that this month the CO2 Coalition, a group that argues more carbon dioxide is good for the planet, managed to overturn a fact-check on an article that attacked the accuracy of climate models. A fact-check rated the piece as “false” but it was published by Facebook anyway when labelled as opinion. 

Their public statements differ from actions that they take. They should know better. After all, action speaks louder than words. Always.

The UK government have confirmed that plans for the return of fans to sporting events from October 01 have been put on “pause” – Michael Gove, Minister for the Cabinet Office declared on Tuesday – in a big blow to football clubs. 

Football was gearing up for supporters to return to games at a reduced capacity from next month, with Liverpool hopeful of welcoming around 12,500 for the Premier League clash with Sheffield United on October 24. 

But an increase in cases of Covid-19 across the country has compelled authorities to a rethink of safety measures.

I’m not too disappointed because I’m not in the UK – but having said that, I do miss the electrifying atmosphere when Kopites bellow and roar in a stadium bursting at the seams. Liverpool playing to an almost empty venue is never going to be the same really.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Malaysian Banks Identified in FinCEN Files

Malaysia is not unaffected by the FinCEN files scandal. 

In case, you didn’t read my post this morning, the global financial industry has been put under the spotlight again after a cache of leaked documents show years of transactions handled by the world’s largest banks linked to money laundering, corruption and fraud. 

According to a Malay Mail report published yesterday, a total of 23 transactions involving Malaysian banks were flagged as “suspicious” – with over $4.88 million (RM20 million) going in and $13.38 million (RM55 million) going out. 

On the receipt side, AmBank led the list of dubious dealings, having accepted $2.9 million in two transactions, followed by HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd ($871,637) and Alliance Bank Malaysia Bhd ($462,378). And the bulk of suspicious transactions, a total of $13.37 million in seven transactions, was sent by Public Bank Bhd. 

Other banks also allegedly involved included CIMB Bank Bhd, Standard Chartered Bank, United Overseas Bank and OCBC Bank. 

These undertakings all involved overseas accounts in countries such as Afghanistan, Latvia, Poland, United Arab Emirates and the United States. 

A timely meet-up with a friend and ex-colleague, Dr Sheila Cheng at the Asia e University campus in Jalan SS 15/4, Subang Jaya, Selangor today. 

We must have had an intense discussion so much so that it slipped my mind to take a photo with her. It’s been years since we last met.

The FinCEN Files Scandal

Rogue banks are in the spotlight again. 

Leaked documents from the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) – the people at the US Treasury who combat financial crime – involving about $2 trillion of suspicious transactions have revealed how some of the world's biggest banks have allowed criminals to move dirty money around the world.

These banks such as JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Bank of New York Mellon and more, not only turned a blind eye but they have immensely profited from the dirty money transactions. 

It’s alleged that BNY Mellon, for example, moved more than $1 billion for the financier behind Malaysia’s 1MDB political scandal, and JPMorgan processed more than $50 million for Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager for US President Donald Trump.  

The FinCEN files are more than 2,500 documents, most of which were files that banks sent to the US authorities between 2000 and 2017. They raise concerns about what their clients might be doing. 

These documents are some of the international banking system's most closely guarded secrets. Banks use them to report suspicious behaviour but they are not proof of wrongdoing or crime. 

They were leaked to Buzzfeed News and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which distributed them to 108 news organizations in 88 countries – and disclosing activities that banks don't want the public to know about. 

A BBC News report had given us insights into some of these activities: 

HSBC allowed fraudsters to move $80 million of stolen money around the world, even after it learned from US investigators the scheme was a Ponzi scam. 

JP Morgan allowed a company to move more than $1bn through a London account without knowing who owned it. The bank later discovered the company might be owned by a mobster on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list. 

Evidence that one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's closest associates used Barclays bank in London to avoid sanctions which were meant to stop him using financial services in the West. Some of the cash was used to buy works of art. 

The husband of a woman who has donated £1.7m to the UK's governing Conservative Party's was secretly funded by a Russian oligarch with close ties to President Putin. 

The UK is called a "higher risk jurisdiction" and compared to Cyprus, by the intelligence division of FinCEN. That's because of the number of UK registered companies that appear in the SARs. Over 3,000 UK companies are named in the FinCEN files - more than any other country. 

Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich once held secret investments in footballers not owned by his club through an offshore company. 

Deutsche Bank moved money launderers' dirty money for organised crime, terrorists and drug traffickers. 

Standard Chartered moved cash for Arab Bank for more than a decade after clients' accounts at the Jordanian bank had been used in funding terrorism. 

The above illustrates all too clearly that existing regulations and bank compliance processes are grossly inadequate. 

And according to the ICIJ, in the US, almost 200 banking entities filed suspicious transactions.

Part of the list of 200 US banking entities. Data from ICIJ

By law, these banks have to know who their clients are  it's not enough to file SARs and keep taking dirty money from clients while expecting enforcers to deal with the problem. If they have evidence of criminal activity, they should stop moving the cash.

Scandalous – that’s what it is!

Monday, September 21, 2020

The Art of Plated Food

Jolanda Stokkermans aka De Meal Prepper (left) creates incredibly impressive animal portraits that almost come alive on the plate. And they are edible. 

Each meal takes the Belgian food artist about 2-4 hours to create, depending on the difficulty of the subject and available ingredients, of course. And each animal is made up of different foods. 

The mother-of-two from Koersel (which is 68km from Brussels), said that nobody should feel sorry for devouring her creations. 

"All of the plates are meant to be eaten", she says.


The peacock is a light salad with figs, grapes, cucumber, kiwi, shrimps and smoked salmon. Serve with a lemon vinaigrette and French toast.


The green parrot is another salad with nuts, dates and paprika. Serve with fresh herbs and a basil dressing.


The chameleon is spicy couscous with carrots, broccoli rice and sweet corn. Perfect as side dish or main course.


The grey cat is rice noodles and basmati rice with creamy mushrooms and black truffles.


The fish is a beetroot-potato mash with steamed zucchini, tomatoes and mozzarella. Spiced with garlic, black pepper and ras-el-hanout. Perfect as a side dish.


The sea turtle is rice with fresh salmon sashimi. Serve with cucumber, soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.


The rabbit is actually Greek pasta with homemade tomato sauce, green haricots, chives and feta cheese.


The tiger is made of rice, carrots, edamame beans and bacon. Serve with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.


The fox is a spicy side dish with bulgur, Thai rice and chilli sauce. Seasoned with roasted black garlic and ras-el-hanout.

The horse is Pearl couscous served with a creamy mascarpone sauce, chicory and fresh herbs.