Friday, February 21, 2020

A-G Drops Criminal Proceedings Against LTTE-linked 12

Attorney-General Tommy Thomas (right) admirably exhibited common sense – a rare commodity in Malaysia – as well as showed gumption today, when he decided to discontinue criminal proceedings against 12 individuals accused of supposedly having links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. 

He said he didn't think they can be convicted under any of the 34 charges brought against them. 

He explained: “Each of them had in his mobile phone or Facebook account photos of (Velupillai) Prabhakaran and other leaders of LTTE slain during the Civil War in Sri Lanka. If such conduct can constitute a criminal offence, it would bring the law into disrepute. 

But even if there were elements of a ‘terrorist act’ on the part of all or any of the 12 accused of possessing, distributing or displaying such photos of Prabhakaran, it would be impossible for the prosecution to establish that they do not fall within the excluded category of Section 130B(4) of the Penal Code in that they merely constitute ‘advocacy, protest or dissent’”. 

He added: “As Public Prosecutor, I must conduct myself in a manner which will maintain, promote and defend the interest of justice”. 

And he continued: “I must be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against each suspect on each charge. In reaching that judgment, I must exercise discretion responsibly and impartially”.













The men had been detained under Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (or Sosma), since October last year for their alleged links to the LTTE – a defunct militant organisation that attempted to create an independent Tamil state in Sri Lanka. 

The 12, including two DAP assemblypersons – Melaka’s Gadek representative G Saminathan and Negeri Sembilan’s Seremban Jaya’s P Gunasekaran – have denied their involvement in LTTE, stating that they only sympathized with the plight of the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka.












Yesterday, Fraser Forster repelled a VAR-awarded penalty to ensure Celtic's away goal gives them a narrow advantage after their Europa League last-32 1-1 stalemate against FC Copenhagen. 

Odsonne Edouard earned Neil Lennon's team a deserved lead in the fourteenth minute before their opposition launched a second-half surge which saw them leveling in the fifty-second minute. 

That save was a close call for Celtic alright. 

The return leg is in Glasgow next Thursday.

WSD Venue in Kuala Lumpur is Confirmed

And finally, Kuala Lumpur can confirm the venue for World Speech Day 2020. Thank you, Telekom Malaysia Toastmasters Club! 



















And we have a total of 70 registrations todate:

















On Wednesday, I was at the Super Speakers Toastmasters Club meeting in Puchong, Selangor where I was tasked to evaluate a challenging Advanced speech from the challenging manual Interpretive Reading. 

I also took part in Table Topics and I was voted Best Speaker. 

Photos of the said meeting:
















Thursday, February 20, 2020

Singapore Minister Cannot Mask Scorn on Mask-wearers

Leaked audio has emerged of Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing (right) criticizing not only his fellow citizens for wearing and hoarding medical masks – but also Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam for appearing in one. 

The recording, which has been widely shared on Singaporean social media, features Chan alleging that the sight of the mask-clad Lam had prompted panic-buying in Hong Kong. 

If Singaporean officials had emulated Lam, Chan said, "our hospital system would have broken down" as there would be "no more masks". And rightly so. 

And Lam (left) who wore a medical mask during a January 28 press conference on Covid-19, had invited scathing paroxysms of searing criticisms in Hong Kong – where the wearing of masks in public was banned during months of anti-government demonstrations in 2019. In case you didn't know, the ban was an attempt to keep protesters and rioters from hiding their identities. 

As an aside, Lam wasn’t even wearing the mask properly – her nose was naked for all to see! 

Masks have been dividing opinion – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (far left) threatened to eject anyone wearing a mask from his press conferences, but Thailand Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul (left) criticized foreign visitors for not wearing masks, even suggesting they be expelled from the country for putting Thais at risk during the Covid-19 flare-up. 

Anyway, the source of the said audio is unknown, but appears to be a recording of a closed-door meeting conducted last week at the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

Drawing laughter from his audience, Chan chastised his fellow citizens for being "disgraceful" and "idiotic" for their frenzied hoarding and purchasing of food and household items in Singapore – where 81 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed. 

In a post on his personal Facebook on Monday, Chan acknowledged that the meeting had taken place, but did not confirm or deny making the comments heard in the recording. Chan said he had a "frank discussion" with the chamber, concluding his post by writing that "hearsay taken out of context will be unhelpful to trust-building and collective actions in these difficult times" – and which I agree! 

Fellow neighbors, be like us Malaysians! Stay cool, calm and collected – Life must go on and as for Covid-19, it shall soon pass. 

And if you really have this dire need to protect yourself, then I suggest you take spoonfuls of curry soup every day. 

I do and sure enough, it is keeping all viruses away. 

Mobile World Virus

Neighbors of Bisbe Street, in front of the Catalan Government building in Barcelona, Spain woke up on Tuesday to find street art on one of its walls. 

Urban artist Salvatore (right), popularly known as TVBoy had painted Leonardo da Vinci's famous La Gioconda wearing a mask while holding a smartphone – he called the art Mobile World Virus!

The current Covid-19 outbreak has caused the cancellation of the Mobile World Congress, an annual trade show dedicated primarily to the mobile communications industry that would take place in Barcelona on February 24-27. The event usually attracts more than 100,000 people, with an estimated 6,000 of them travelling from China.  

MWC is not the only event that got expunged from the events calendar. Many other events all over the world face a similar fate. 

I'm still saying we are overreacting – and the Lemming effect has taken a powerful hold on our collective psyche. 

From trade exhibitions and fashion shows to sports and examinations, some of the world’s biggest events are being cancelled due to Covid-19. These include:
  • Hong Kong Marathon on February 09 – Cancelled. 
  • Asian indoor championships in Hangzhou, China from February 12-13 – Cancelled. 
  • Asian water polo championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan from February 12-16 – Cancelled. 
  • Tokyo Marathon on March 01 – Restricted to elite runners consisting of 176 athletes and 30 wheelchair athletes. 
  • Diving world series event in Beijing, China from March 07-09 – Cancelled. 
  • Formula E’s Sanya E-Prix in Sanya, China on March 21 – Cancelled. 
  • Formula One’s Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 19 – Postponed. New date not set. For rugby, Hong Kong Sevens moved from April 03-05 to October 16-18 and Singapore Sevens moved from April 11-12 to October 10-11. 

Touch wood, World Speech Day is still on the calendar on March 15. 

As of now, according to thewuhanvirus.com:

  







Let’s not be too obsessed with numbers.

In Malaysia, the total cumulative confirmed Covid-19 cases still stand at 22 cases – but 15 have since been discharged after making full recovery and only seven patients are still receiving treatments at hospitals in the country. So, let's get on with life, please!

Yesterday, Liverpool and Atletico Madrid faced off in the first leg of the last-16 in this Champions League match. The former played their worst game whilst the latter demonstrated vintage defensive display as well as their apparent gamesmanship to scrape a 1-0 win off a dodgy corner in the fourth minute. 

We need to shake it off and get Anfield rocking for the return leg is all that needs to be said.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

No Time to Die

Billie Eilish who turned 18 on December 18  the youngest artist ever to write and record a James Bond theme song  performed her No Time to Die, for the first time live at the 2020 Brit Awards on Tuesday.

The number is an unsettling ballad that hints the plot will center around Bond's betrayal. The lyrics to No Time To Die reference lies and deceit, as Eilish sings: "You were never on my side".

No Time To Die opens with a haunting piano motif, with the star's voice weary as she sings, "I should have known I'd leave alone". 

And she concludes: "Now you'll never see me cry. There's just no time to die". 

The words seem to confirm a fan theory that Daniel Craig's (left) final outing as Bond will see him double-crossed by Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux), his love interest from the previous film, Spectre.

Lyrically, they touch upon the psychological toll of 007's licence to kill, with the observation: "The blood you bleed is just the blood you owe".

Here’s the music video of “No Time To Die”:
The 40th edition of the British Phonographic Industry's annual pop music awards saw Eilish being crowned Best International Female Solo Artist. 

Last month, at the 2020 Grammy Awards, she won big! 

Variety‘s Hitmaker of 2019 swept the top Grammy categories, becoming the youngest (and only the second) artist in history to win the big four: album of the year and pop vocal album (for “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”), record and song of the year (for “Bad Guy”) and new artist. 

[Note: Christopher Cross is the only other artist ever to sweep the big four categories, in 1981]. 

The 18-year-old pop wünderkind, had been refreshingly open with her fans after releasing her debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? to critical acclaim. It launched her into mainstream, allowing her to earn tons of money, make A-list celebrity friends, and earn millions of fans across the globe who adore her. 

But that doesn’t mean it was an easy road for Eilish, and she was honest about that. In fact, ahead of the Grammy Awards, she had sat down with Gayle King for an interview on The Gayle King Grammy Special, where she explained that 2018 was particularly difficult year for her. She had struggled with clinical depression and also lost friends in her meteoric rise to fame because they could no longer relate to her new experiences. 

She admitted: “I genuinely didn’t think I’d make it to 17”.












“Did you think that you would do something to yourself?” King had asked Eilish. 

“Yeah”, the latter said candidly. “I think about this one time I was in Berlin and I was alone in my hotel, and I remember there was a window right there. I remember crying because I was thinking about how...the way that I was going to die was, I was going to do it”. 

Thankfully, Eilish is in a much happier place with her mental health and now uses her past experiences to prevent fans from taking drastic measures and show them there’s hope. “I just grab [the fans] by the shoulders and I’m like, ‘Please take care of yourself and be good to yourself and be nice to yourself,’” she said. “‘Don’t take that extra step and hurt yourself further’”. 

Her song I’m sharing below was written during a period of time when she was sad and suicidal. 

She had shared that the lyric "I want to end me" was about her and how she was feeling – and which makes it even more melancholic:
Mental health is often misunderstood, especially by those who do not suffer or have suffered from it.




London Subway Squabble













Seeing is believing! 

A scene of what looks like a fight between two rats on a train platform inside of London's subway has won one of the world's top awards for wildlife photography. 

Taken by Sam Rowley (right), the picture was simply titled "Subway Squabble" – and it won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year's People Choice Award, an annual competition held by the Natural History Museum in London. 

It was chosen after it secured more than 28,000 votes from a shortlist of 25 images and having beaten 48,000 other pictures. 

According to the museum's website, the semi-professional photographer spent five nights for his project, taking his time to capture the photograph in London's metro system, where an estimated two million commuters use it every day. 

Rowley had glimpsed two rodents scampering toward a small pile of food when they began to get rowdy. In a split second, he snapped a photo of them fighting over the morsel. 

"The tunnels are a desperate place to live if they need to have a boxing match over a tiny little crumb", he said. 

Rowley declared happiness at winning the award: "It's been a lifetime dream to succeed in this competition in this way, with such a relatable photo taken in such an everyday environment in my hometown". 

Michael Dixon, director of the museum, praised the photograph, saying it "provides a fascinating glimpse into how wildlife functions in a human-dominated environment". 

He continued: "The mice's behavior is sculpted by our daily routine, the transport we use and the food we discard. This image reminds us that while we may wander past it every day, humans are inherently intertwined with the nature that is on our doorstep – I hope it inspires people to think about and value this relationship more". 

The photo can be seen at the museum's Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition until May 31, 2020.

And here's Rowley's favorite Photoshopped version of the award-winning photo!













Rats with lightsabers!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

HK Armed Robbers Prefer Toilet Rolls

Hong Kong has become a bizarre place. 

I guess since the protests and riots against the extradition bill spiraled out of control since March of last year, Hong Kong is no longer the same Hong Kong that I thought I knew. 

On Monday, three knife-wielding men robbed a delivery man outside Wellcome Supermarket in the Mong Kok district – and according to an Apple Daily report, they brazenly carted off 600 toilet paper rolls, valued at around HKD$1,695 ($218; £167). 












Toilet rolls are currently in short supply in Hong Kong due to shortages caused by panic-buying during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Anyway, Hong Kong police have arrested two men and recovered some of the stolen loo rolls, local media reports said. 

Stores across the city have seen supplies massively depleted with long queues when new stock arrives. Despite government assurances that supplies remain unaffected by the virus outbreak, residents have been stocking up on toilet paper:


Other household products have also seen panic-buying including rice, pasta and cleaning items. 

Face masks and hand sanitisers are almost impossible to get as people try to protect themselves from the coronavirus, which is still claiming lives.













Customers wear masks as they walk past empty toilet paper shelves at a supermarket in Hong Kong, China
A customer wearing a protective face mask walks past the empty shelves of the rice goods section at a supermarket in Hong Kong, China, on February 05, 2020

Authorities blame false online rumors for the panic buying and say supplies of food and household goods remain stable. 

There has also been panic-buying of the same type products in Singapore, which already has 75 confirmed Covid-19 cases. 

At least, Malaysians don’t get panic-stricken that easily. We are not the “kiasi” (惊死, afraid to die) type! 

For those looking for the latest infection-and-death statistics on Covid-19: 

According to South China Morning Post ‘live’, confirmed cases who have recovered stand at 10,615. And the number of infections total 73,348 and fatalities total 1,868. 

I cross-checked against my No.1 source of information, i.e. thewuhanvirus.com, those infection and death numbers are 73,331 and 1,873 respectively.

WSD 2020 Registrations Arrive at the 60 Mark

Todate, World Speech Day has amassed 60 registrations – and our numbers are growing every day. 

















Don’t miss out on the biggest public speaking event in the country because your voice matters! 



#unexpectedvoices #worldspeechday 

Do check out Michael McIntyre’s compilation of some of his best jokes about the Scots:
Michael McIntyre is actually, an English comedian, writer, and television presenter. 

I am unable to validate this but according to celebritynetworth.com, in an average year, he is said to earn as much as $30 million and has been named the highest-grossing comedian in the world. 

Perhaps, after quitting Toastmasters – I should try out stand-up comedy?!?! 

Sigh, if only I am funny enough.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Mattresses Turned Into Refugee Gardens

Creativity and innovation can take many forms. 

Tony Ryan (right), a physical chemistry professor at the University of Sheffield initiated an idea that has benefited a refugee community in Jordan. 

This is the Zaatari camp, located 10km east of Mafraq (80km to the north from the capital Amman) and which has gradually evolved into a permanent settlement. Said to be the world’s largest camp for Syrian refugees, it was first opened in July 2012 to host Syrians fleeing the violence in the ongoing Syrian civil war that erupted in March 2011. 

Today, the Syrian refugees work together with the British university to grow fresh, healthy food with nothing but water and old mattress foam.
These 'gardens' use the mattresses in place of the soil, which solves two problems in one: It reuses the mountain of plastic mattresses that have piled up in the camp and it allows everyone to grow fresh food in a crowded, desert environment. 

Even those of us who live in urban environments can learn from this project – it’s all about taking value from things that can be reused and recycled and making the absolute most out of very limited spaces and really limited resources. 

As Ryan says, all it takes is “a tiny little bit of science and a whole load of local ingenuity”.

Airlifting Snow Just So Holidaymakers Can Have Their Snow











Mild weather and a lack of snow have left ski slopes bare in the French Pyrenees












Temperatures have risen above 10C across the Pyrenees (a mountain range that separates the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of Europe, stretching more than 430km between Spain and France) this week, leaving ski slopes devoid of snow. 

There are those who still don’t want to acknowledge that milder weather and a lack of snow during winter are trends that meteorologists have linked to climate change. 

Already, France experienced its mildest January since 1900, according to Meteo-France, the country’s national forecaster. 

Therefore, the Luchon-Superbagnères resort in France had arranged for around 50 tonnes of snow to be dropped on its slopes. Taken from higher mountains, the snow was dumped on Friday and Saturday, just so holidaymakers can have their snow. 

This particular exercise to airlift snow using helicopters cost more than 5,000 euros (£4,150). 

Hervé Pounau, director of the local council, insisted it was a worthwhile investment: “We’re not going to cover the entire ski station in snow, but without it we would have had to close a huge part of the ski domain, and it’s during the holidays that we have the most activity for beginners and the ski schools”. The school holidays in February and March are typically the busiest time of year for ski resorts in France. 

Pounau maintained that the jobs of up to 80 people, including lift operators, ski school teachers and child minders, will be protected by keeping the resort open. 

However, the delivery of snow has been criticized by environmental groups. 

“Instead of adapting to global warming we’re going to end up with a double problem: something that costs a lot of energy, that contributes heavily to global warming and that in addition is only for an elite group of people who can afford it. It is the world upside down”, Bastien Ho of green group Europe Écologie Les Verts told French television. 

Pounau, of course, conceded that moving the snow was not a “particularly ecological” solution – but said “we had no choice”. 

Certainly, ski resorts in the Pyrenees mountains are facing an uncertain future, as low snowfall levels result in fewer visitors.












Celtic stretched their winning run in the Scottish Premiership to nine games when they managed to subdue battling Aberdeen 2-1 on Sunday. 

Callum McGregor opened the scoring in the tenth minute – but the Dons went level seventeen minutes later. And then, James Forrest sent a perfect pass into the path of Kristoffer Ajer who took a one touch before firing past the opposing side’s goalkeeper at eighty-one minutes.