Thursday, December 31, 2009

Najib's 1 Malaysia

I had refused to comment on 1Malaysia simply because it is a silly slogan crafted by a wily politician. Besides, it’s just an idiomatic device that sounds clever but it’s actually asinine, an expression of good intentions but it’s really worthless. Still, it works because Malaysians are a gullible lot. We actually allow ourselves to be insulted by this 1Malaysia concept because when we believe and embrace 1Malaysia, we are admitting that we were a quarreling and divisive nation pre-Najib, that 1 Malaysia is a unifying force that brings disparate Malaysians together into one big happy family of contented sheep… oops, sorry, citizens. But since Praba Ganesan shared the same sentiments as me, I am reproducing a portion of his writings on 1Malaysia that was published in The Malaysian Insider (Webpage, accessed December 31, 2009):
“Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, after easing Tunku Abdul Rahman from power, worked to build a single coalition nation… BN was an election juggernaut for decades. Najib, stuck in a similar rut after easing Pak Lah out, chose to go retro and follow his dad’s strategy. Plus the spirit of inclusiveness was running riot worldwide in the aftermath of Obama-mania.

So off he went, 1Malaysia.

Song competitions, group singing, aerobics, cake-making, food fairs, colouring contests and even a Formula 1 team. You can’t pass a day without something, someone, some action, some speech, some kitchen sink being referred, restructured, renamed or launched as 1Malaysia.

But the campaign – this intended zeitgeist – as far as anyone could see had no philosophical underpinning, no fundamental change in government, business or social engagement.

It was just 1Malaysia. A concept that stood in its repetition. With old rules remaining resolute.”

1 Malaysia – empty sloganeering that only Najib could have thought of!

And now, my 2009 resolutions’ year-end report:

I have failed to even start writing the first page of my Marketing textbook (0% Effort, 0% Achievement)
I have identified the M Sc in Marketing program and the University, but I have yet to enroll. The reason is financial (0% Finances, 0% Achievement)
I have not started to pen my short story and then get it published (0% Ideas, 0% Achievement).
I have given more than the targeted 20 Toastmasters speeches – 23 speeches to be exact (100% Achievement).
I planned to complete 900 teaching hours at HICT by end September 2009 – My teaching hours totaled 1112.5 hours (100% Achievement).
I was confident to bring up my ADP numbers, but alas, there are only 270 active students (54% Achievement).
I had wanted to receive 15,000 hits to my blog – I secured 18,702 hits (100% Achievement).

So what does the above mean? I have achieved only 50% of my resolutions. Good or bad, I have to live with this non-success. Yes, I am not going to crucify myself for these non-achievements. It illustrates that I am imperfect too – like everybody else. The important thing is to look ahead and move on. Here's to a brand new year!

On another note, I found this finding by a Merdeka Center survey (conducted between November 04-11, 2009) of 358 UMNO delegates (coverage of the survey included at least one individual from each party division) from the most recent party assembly to be very illuminating: 52 per cent agreed that there was corruption in government” (Webpage, accessed December 31, 2009).
I am curious to know if this is a perception or if it is based on first-hand knowledge of the goings-on in the government – since UMNO is the government?

Stepping Down

Today is my last day as HOD in the Department of ADP & DipBus at HICT – I am stepping down – and I will start the new year just focusing on teaching and being involved in other equally challenging stuff. Very special thanks to Shireen Ng for her steadfast support.

I didn’t watch the Arsenal-Portsmouth game early this morning – but anyway, I heard this morning’s news over the radio that Arsenal thrashed Portsmouth 4-1. Arsenal undeniably showcased their Premier League title credentials with this comprehensive win – so Chelsea and Man U, watch out!

The Gunners took the lead when Eduardo's free-kick deflected in off Younes Kaboul (28), before Samir Nasri fired in a second (52). Aaron Ramsey made it 3-0 with a brilliant solo goal, hammering in from 20 yards (69), before Portsmouth’s Nadir Belhadj's close-range strike (74) gave his team faint hope. Even this slim hope vanished when Alex Song splendidly headed in a Nasri cross (81) to wrap it up for Arsenal.

A happy result for the Gunners.

Wintry weather has resulted in Wednesday’s match between Celtic and Kilmarnock being called off. An SPL statement said the match in Ayrshire could not be played due to "approach roads to the stadium being declared unsafe by the police".

Divisional commander chief superintendent Bill Fitzpatrick said: "Having examined the stadium and its immediate environments on each of the previous two days, Strathclyde Police cannot guarantee that the football match scheduled for Wednesday night could be held without considerable and unacceptable risk to spectators and others attending the match.

"Extreme weather conditions have resulted in thick compacted ice covering large areas of the approaches to the stadium – this has proved resistant to mitigation”. At least, six SPL matches had to be re-arranged.

Dinner Meeting

Awesome dinner, brilliant meeting – these two adjectives are adequate to describe the HICT Toastmasters End-of-Year function at the Loke Fook Moon Restaurant, off Jalan Meru in Klang. I hereby declare this event a resounding success – and I wish to thank everybody – from HICT Toastmasters to the illustrious Toastmasters from other Clubs and guests for ensuring that we had a good meeting and I trust, we enjoyed it just as much. Only Francis Chiong (MIHRM Toastmasters) couldn’t make it – but otherwise, everybody else turned up and on time too! I personally enjoyed the project speeches – I love all the 4 speeches, they were superbly stupendous and if I was a non-Toastmaster, I would have signed up (as a Toastmaster) on-the-spot. Honest, I was very impressed with the speeches: the quality was exceptionally good, the delivery entertaining, and the speakers engaging. It was a fitting end to 2009 with a re-energized HICT Toastmasters Club resolving to continue to sustain itself and to keep growing and learning. I do know the prominent presence of so many distinguished Toastmasters will further motivate, encourage, inspire, and revitalize all of us.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Toastmasters Meet in Klang

We will have 32 people attending tonight’s function – of which 12 Toastmasters Clubs (if we include HICT) are represented. Of the 27 Toastmasters attending, 3 are Distinguished Toastmasters; one a Division Governor, one an Area Governor; 3 Club Presidents; 2 Vice Presidents Education; and 2 Vice Presidents Membership, amongst others. We will have fun and we will have fellowship in the spirit of Toastmastering.

It was not easy watching the Reds play against a spirited Aston Villa. In fact, it was nerve-racking. Steven Gerrard came close, but the goal was not to be. Villa’s Stewart Downing and Gabriel Agbonlahor were equally threatening, and Pepe Reina did well to deny them. And again Villa’s John Carew made a clumsy attempt when he headed wide. Anyway, I could only start to breathe after Fernando Torres hit the 93rd-minute winner as Liverpool snatched a late victory over Aston Villa. This solitary goal gave us 3 valuable points. We still have a lot of catching-up to do – but we will be there, for sure, to give nightmares to Man U!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holiday Glut

Every public holiday is an enormous privilege. Of course, while we (as employees) get R&R, it is worth remembering that holidays are paid for by our employer(s). In Malaysia, there are 16 official public holidays. Add the employee’s annual leave, which may vary between 14 to 24 days in a year. And tally the weekends too – i.e. Saturdays and Sundays, which total 104 days. Even if many may be working on Saturdays, for most office workers, it is either a half-Saturday every Saturday or alternate half-Saturdays that they are obliged to work – meaning, Saturdays cannot be productive, if we want to be honest about it! If we add all these off-days up, it should come up to a minimum of 134 days – and these do not include sick days, compassionate leave, study leave (for some) and other types of off-day benefits. Okay, let’s forget about these – let’s assume most people are like me – I hardly take leave of this kind. So, 134 days represent 36.7% of the 365 days in a year. And I am sure that when we calculate these off-days as a ringgit value, it will be of some significance to the wage bill. The fact that we have too many holidays do not augur well for a country’s productivity, besides also knocking our competitiveness.

Take this month of December, for instance – there are 4 Fridays but 3 of those Fridays are public holidays. See what I mean? Are we surprised if diligence and hard work flew out of the window? We cannot afford to be lax about work anymore. Doug Firebaugh said: “Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow”. But if we are perpetually on holiday, we won’t even move! So how can we envision a better tomorrow?

Today, Arulkumar re-confirmed his participation for our dinner meeting tomorrow – and his Sunway Toastmasters Club brings the tally to 11 clubs in total. Francis Chiong from MIHRM Toastmasters had texted me to say he is outstation and will only be back late tomorrow. And I thought it was really super of him to insist that he will drop by, no matter what – just to show support. Everything is set and for sure, we will have a wonderful meeting tomorrow. I bet you, even our own HICT Toastmasters will be pleasantly surprised with all the arrangements made. There will be many firsts at this meeting!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Taipei Doll

Brandon (I still call him by this name although everybody else refers to him as Wee Han) posted this photo that he took when he was in Taiwan on holidays last week itself! He told me this ‘model’ (in an art museum) reminded him of the Pussycat Balls – he didn’t say which one of us though! Yup, I can see the resemblance – right down to the sensuous body! The question is, whose body?

And as our End-of-Year Toastmasters dinner meeting fast approaches – I can confirm that 31 people are attending Wednesday’s function – of these, 26 are Toastmasters and 5 non-Toastmasters. And the following 10 Clubs have re-confirmed their participation: D’Utama Advanced, KL Advanced, Metro, IEM, MIHRM, Taman Indrahana, MAS Mawar, Shaklee Dynamic Family, NLP, and DHL Cyberjaya. A good turnout makes a great meeting. I am looking forward to it.

The Butt of Jokes

I was at the Sime Darby Heathcare Toastmasters meeting this evening because I had been invited by their President to take on the role of a speech evaluator for Wong Siau Fui. I was incidentally, the evaluator for the former (i.e. Shirley) when she herself did her project speech at IEM on Christmas Eve. There were ten of us at this meeting – 5 members, 3 visiting Toastmasters and 2 guests – but even with this small number, we made this meeting a success.

As blogs and emails continue to make a monkey of the RMAF with the embarrassing tale of engine thefts (mind you, these engines weigh about 200 kg each and a crane would be required to lift them onto a lorry to take them out of the guarded? base) – one blogger called them Royal Malaysian Air Farce – Pauline Ng (Webpage, posted December 28, 2009) inked these words: “Not surprisingly, the disappearance of the engines has made Malaysia the butt of jokes and heightened concern about its role in the black market arms trade. The Armed Forces chief's comments that the lost engines could be just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ only added to the sense of dread.

As opposition DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng put it: “How can they protect the country when they cannot even protect their own base?”

This is where we are all supposed to LOL! It sure beats crying which we are wont to do – given the state of affairs in Malaysia – but it won’t help us one bit. We will just have to grit our teeth – and wait for the next general elections to show our disappointment and displeasure.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


I was somewhat amused yet alarmed when I read this piece of news in The New Sunday Times today – it says that the number of unwanted gifts Australians get under the Christmas tree amounted to a nationwide total of 20 million “useless” presents, at least according to an eBay survey. What this means in dollar value is that although Australians spent A$8.5 billion (RM25.8 billion) buying gifts this Christmas, at least A$1 billion worth of these presents will either be left to gather dust in a cupboard, binned, regifted, exchanged, or sold. Examples of unwanted gifts ranged from underwear, socks, bath products and inappropriately sexual items to a tandoori spice rub for chicken given to a vegetarian, a dog bowl for a dogless recipient, and cellulite cream, said eBay (p 41). What gratuitous wastefulness, is it not?

I do believe this is not just an Australian norm, but everywhere else too. There are many occasions whereby we will need to buy somebody something – a birthday, an anniversary, a farewell, a career promotion, and oh yes, Christmas. In fact, many a time, we do not even need special occasions to give somebody something – it can be a spontaneous act from somebody to anybody, really. I say, avoid buying gifts unless we know that somebody very, very well to be able to know what sort of presents they would appreciate and value. Isn’t it a lot easier to give somebody gift vouchers (say, from Jusco or MNG), and leave it to the recipients to decide for themselves what they would like to get? Or we could just buy them a nice meal? It’s more practical this way. Even giving ang-pows would be better, but of course, it is so old-fashioned. We could always ask the intended recipients what they really want – but that would be telling, wouldn’t it?

Yes, I am reminded by Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, who said: “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give”. But let’s be honest – this is a materialistic world, after all. If I do that, I will be quickly branded a cheapskate, right?

And in the Arsenal-Aston Villa match, the former walloped the latter 3-0. With Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas returning from a hamstring strain, we should expect him to positively influence the game, and he did not disappoint.

Fabregas contributed the first goal with a 25-yard free-kick. This 65th minute goal came after Villa keeper Brad Friedel had denied William Gallas from point-blank range and kept out an Andrey Arshavin shot. A first-time finish from Fabregas after a Theo Walcott pass (81) and an Abou Diaby strike (90+1) wrapped up the win for Arsenal.

Boxing Day Matches

Two Boxing Day games that I was glued to:

In the Celtic-Hamilton match, Glenn Loovens opened the scoring when he volleyed in a Barry Robson corner (13). The home side went on to dominate for long spells, but Accies keeper Tomas Cerny made great saves to thwart the Bhoys, until Celtic settled the game for good with a 18-yard sizzler from substitute Niall McGinn (90+1).

And down south, the match that Liverpool must win, against Wolverhampton – for obvious reasons. I loved the ‘Inside Sport’ headline in UK’s The Independent on Sunday: “Gerrard finds his form to feast on the Wolves”. Unfortunately, it was not as dramatically one-sided as that – even though the Reds won. Liverpool had to wait until Wolverhampton were down to 10 men before they could convert their dominance into a lead but I suppose it will take small steps like this to get their season back on track.
Liverpool’s Emiliano Insua sped down the left to send over a fine hanging cross that allowed team-mate Steven Gerrard to shrug off the back-tracking Milijas to firmly head into the corner of the net (62). And then Yossi Benayoun collected Fabio Aurelio's deep cross from the left and beat Wolves goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, thanks to a deflection from Wolverhampton substitute George Elokobi (70). Liverpool won 2-0 and hopefully, Gerrard will start working with Torres and form the lethal partnership that they were meant to be.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Facebook Rules the World

I was doing some reading on social media marketing on the Web, and I came across this interesting blog (Vincos Blog) by Vincenzo Cosenza, focusing on the topics of social networking, social media and photography. He had published a World Map of Social Networks. The interactive map uses analyzed data from Google Trends for Websites to visually depict the most popular social networks by country.

The map was first published in June 2009, when Facebook had more than 200 million users and was the most popular network in most places in Europe, Canada, Australia and the United States.

The updated map (i.e. December 19, 2009) shows Facebook's continuing trend of global domination, where the social network is the market leader in 100 out of 127 countries analyzed. Malaysia of course, is overwhelmingly Facebook.
For those interested, Vincenzo Cosenza's interactive World Map of Social Networks in December 2009 can be seen here:
HICT Toastmasters is organizing an End of Year (X’mas and New Year celebration, if you want to call it that too) Dinner Meeting on December 30, and I am the Organizing Chair. We hope to finish this year with a big bang – and so we wanted to make this an event that is not only memorable, but also to encourage, motivate and inspire our young Toastmasters. We are going to see the presence of representatives from 8 Toastmasters Clubs: D’Utama Advanced – 3 including their President; KL Advanced – 2 including their VP Membership; Metro – 1 i.e. the VP Education; IEM – 1 member; MIHRM – 1 i.e. the President; Taman Indrahana – 1 member; Sunway – 1 member; and Shaklee Dynamic Family – 1 member, with many of them taking on different roles. This meeting is expected to serve as a good learning platform for newbie Toastmasters. I am grateful to have so many (other) Toastmasters to agree to come to give support. Even Division C Governor Barry Ong and Area C3 Governor Allan Gan have consented to come. And better still, Victor Ong is not giving any project speech! Haha! He will be very quiet at this meeting...imagine that!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Last Words

Image courtesy of UK's The Independent
Last words on Copenhagen (although I personally doubt it!). The deal was brokered by US President Barack Obama and leaders from China, India, South Africa, and Brazil. It is worth noting that “Europe accused the United States and China of torpedoing the Copenhagen climate summit and vowed not to back down in its push for a tough binding accord to avert the potential disaster of global warming” (The Star, December 24, 2009, p W35). Countries not included in the negotiations complained the process was undemocratic

Christmas reminds us that that the year is coming to an end and a new year is approaching. It is a time for giving and sharing. But equally important, it is also a time to reflect on the year that will soon be over, and ponder the future that is coming. Yesterday, Dr. Paul Chan sent this email to staff, part of which is reproduced here: “…Our investment in the Fraser Park Campus demonstrates our willpower to succeed. As part of the HELP Group, HICT is singled out to be a principal player in the vocational, technological and professional niches. We need a new mindset, a global perspective, and many diverse skills to cope with this expanding opportunity. Many new people will join us as we sorely need quality managers and academics who are skilled in leading and managing and innovating business models. I exhort those who have strong aspirations to focus your mind and sharpen your priorities as to what matters in managing an organization…. God bless you all”. This is certainly a timely reminder to all of us at HICT.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Christmas Eve Speech

I had intended to finish my tenth speech in order that I can qualify as an ACS before Christmas. Everything was carefully planned but alas, my speaking slot did not materialize with MIHRM Toastmasters because the meeting was cancelled. Still, I managed to secure another speaking slot with Stamford Toastmasters but at the eleventh hour, this meeting too was terminated. Fortunately, I met Nini Yeoh on Monday and she told me about the IEM Toastmasters meeting today. And so, I did my ‘The Touching Story’ speech from the Storytelling manual, titled “A Boy Named Sandy”. ACS CL Robert Ram (my evaluator) said I did well, and I had evoked in him three different emotions: hope, courage, and sadness. He also said I crafted my story in short sentences – so it was easy for everybody to follow. Although my eye contact was good and my gestures were great – Robert felt that I could try to animate my facial expressions to better convey the pathos I was trying to express.

In any case, on Christmas Eve, I have successfully completed all my speeches, thereby permitting me to now graduate as an Advanced Communicator Silver. What is satisfying is that I still finished my planned project speeches according to my timeline, in spite of meeting cancellations.

This was an interesting meeting because only eight people turned up. Three of them were members of IEM and the other five were guests! In any case, this requires most of us to take on multiple roles – so I was not only a speaker (for Project Speech as well as Table Topics), but I was the Evaluator for Shirley Bak (who did her Advanced Communication speech – ‘The Moral of the Story’) and the Ah Counter. And guess what? I won recognition as the Best Speech Evaluator and the Best Table Topic Speaker. Not bad eh? Oh yes, I must congratulate Ir. Ismail Omar (IEM Toastmasters President) who also graduated this evening as an Advanced Communicator Bronze. And he was the other person who won the other recognition at this meeting – he was voted the Best Project Speaker (from among 4 speakers).
Also, our General Evaluator, Azmi Shahrin (a DTM from Extol Toastmasters Club) insisted that everyone call him Santa – since he was the only person who turned up in a Santa cap!
And so while most people would be either attending church service or engaged in merry-making – I was doing my speech at a Toastmasters meeting! I am really sober this year.

The X-filed Christmas Story

The X-Files is a Canadian-American cult science fiction television series (1993-2002) and a part of The X-Files franchise, created by screenwriter Chris Carter. In the series, FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are the investigators of X-Files: marginalized, unsolved cases involving paranormal phenomena. Mulder is a believer in the existence of extraterrestrial lifeforms and the paranormal, while Scully, a skeptic, is assigned to make scientific analyses on Mulder's discoveries.

I found their 'supposedly-lost' X-File story about Christmas (Webpage, accessed December 24, 2009) that is infused with a generous dose of humor:

Mulder: We're too late. It's already been here.
Scully: Mulder, I hope you know what you are doing.
Mulder: Look, Scully, just like the other homes: Douglas fir, truncated, mounted, transformed into some sort of shrine; halls decked with boughs of holly; stockings hung by the chimney, with care.
Scully: You really think someone's been here?
Mulder: Someone or some thing.
Scully: Mulder, over here – it's fruitcake.
Mulder: Don't touch it! Those things can be lethal.
Scully: It's O.K. There's a note attached: "Gonna find out who's naughty and nice."
Mulder: It's judging them, Scully. It's making a list.
Scully: Who? What are you talking about?

Mulder: Ancient mythology tells of an obese humanoid entity who could travel at great speed in a craft powered by antlered servants. Once each year, near the winter solstice, this creature is said to descend from the heavens to reward its followers and punish its disbelievers with jagged chunks of anthracite.
Scully: But that's legend, Mulder – a story told by parents to frighten children. Surely, you don't believe it?
Mulder: Something was here tonight, Scully. Check out the bite marks on this gingerbread man. Whatever tore through this plate of cookies was massive -- and in a hurry.
Scully: It left crumbs everywhere. And look, Mulder, this milk glass has been completely drained.
Mulder: It gorged itself, Scully. It fed without remorse.
Scully: But why would they leave it milk and cookies?
Mulder: Appeasement. Tonight is the Eve, and nothing can stop its wilding.
Scully: But if this thing does exist, how did it get in? The doors and windows were locked. There's no sign of forced entry.
Mulder: Unless I miss my guess, it came through the fireplace.
Scully: Wait a minute, Mulder. If you are saying some huge creature landed on the roof and came down the chimney, you're crazy. The flue is barely six inches wide. Nothing could get through there.
Mulder: But what if it could alter its shape, move in all directions.
Scully: You mean, like a bowl full of jelly?
Mulder: Exactly. Scully, I've never told anyone this, but when I was a child my home was visited. I saw the creature. It had long white strips of fur surrounding its ruddy, misshapen head. Its bloated torso was red and white. I'll never forget the horror. I turned away, and when I looked back it had somehow taken on the facial features of my father.
Scully: Impossible.
Mulder: I know what I saw. And that night it read my mind. It brought me a Mr. Potato Head, Scully. IT KNEW I WANTED A MR. POTATO HEAD.
Scully: I'm sorry, Mulder, but you're asking me to disregard the laws of physics. You want me to believe in some supernatural being who soars across the skies and brings gifts to good little girls and boys. Listen to what you are saying. Do you understand the repercussions? If this gets out, they'll close the X-files.
Mulder: Scully, listen to me: It knows when you are sleeping. It knows when you're awake.
Scully: But we have no proof.
Mulder: Last year, on this exact date, S.E.T.I. radio telescopes detected bogeys in the airspace over twenty-seven states. The White House ordered a Condition Red.
Scully: But that was a meteor shower.

Mulder: Officially. Two days ago, eight prized Scandinavian reindeer vanished from the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Nobody – not even the zookeeper – was told about it. The government doesn't want people to know about Project Kringle. They fear that if this thing is proved to exist, then the public would stop spending half its annual income in a holiday shopping frenzy. Retail markets will collapse. Scully, they cannot let the world believe this creature lives. There's too much at stake. They'll do whatever it takes to insure another silent night.
Scully: Mulder, I… On the roof. It sounds like . . . a clatter.
Mulder: The truth is up there. Let's see what's the matter...

Artcile on PR

I happened to stumble upon Baradan Kuppusamy’s piece “Is Pakatan over-reaching?” in The Star (December 21, 2009, p N14), and as I read what he has written, I was aghast at the way his simple mind works. Here is a scribe who doesn’t use his faculties very much, and he amply demonstrates very well what airy-fairy writing is all about. This is not the first time I am obliged to comment on his supposedly well-informed contributions in the said newspaper. Often I wonder if he deserves even a rebuttal because he frequently writes crap. Maybe it was my misfortune to see his article and it was, I agree, foolish of me to read it. I did anyway. Coming back to Baradan, I suppose I should be like a schoolteacher and be patient with him – after all, he may not know what he writes, methinks. We must not generalize, that, just because somebody writes in a mainstream newspaper, he is very credible and intelligent even.

Okay, cynical Baradan wrote about Pakatan’s common policy platform as a document that reads “like an election manifesto”. So what if it is? It signals a beginning. And as we all know, any beginning must start with an ambition, a vision that articulates a plan for the future. PR is no different. As the writer put it bluntly, PR nurtures this “unvarnished ambition – for power, to dethrone Barisan and occupy Putrajaya, and put their mark on society”. I do not think there is anything wrong with having this aspiration – it keeps us focused. Citizens are looking for an alternative to BN simply because after more than 50 years, BN has failed us. And it’s not just a failure to govern fairly and justly, to defend the interests of the rakyat, but that it has irreparably and irrevocably betrayed the trust of the people. Instead of forging a nation of unity, of common purpose – today, we see a country that is divided, fanned by the fires of bigoted racism, stoked by narrow prejudices and reactionary discrimination, and enforced by the brute authoritarian state apparatus.

Given this scenario, is it wrong for Pakatan to dream “about winning power”, so that they can right the wrongs? Let me remind him and other naysayers what Gail Devers once said, “Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe”. It is because there are enough people who believed in Pakatan that we as an electorate were able to deny BN a two-thirds majority in Parliament today. Remember: “We are limited, not by our abilities, but by our vision”. Your problem, Baradan is that you are infected with small-minded pettiness. You can’t see the forest for the trees!

Even if the article reflects his opinion – he doesn’t have to impose his views on us in a mocking kind of style. He is just too much lah! Geram!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Malaysia Boleh Part II

Remember six months ago there was this big story about a collapsing stadium? Newspapers carried the story about a stadium roof in Gong Badak, Kuala Terengganu that crumpled in June, a year after it was officially opened by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin. It seemed that the iron frame structure supporting the 300 meter-long roof destabilized, causing the roof on the RM300 million stadium’s left wing to collapse. It is a real royal travesty because the stadium was named after the King. I guess in this case, no one dared to laugh. Still, if anybody is to feel really embarrassed, it will be our King.

I also remembered reading that soon after, the Public Accounts Committee launched a probe into the roof collapse at Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium, and its deputy chairman Dr Tan Seng Giaw said tongue-in-cheek, “…I have never heard of a stadium collapsing on its own until now”. Sorry, I cannot help it but I am chortling now.

Then one month later, in July of this year, the Public Works Department closed the RM18 million Batu Burok Aquatic Complex (also in Kuala Terengganu) as it was declared unsafe after only a year in operation. Visible leaks had caused the steel structure supporting the canvass roofs to rust. PWD said construction of the center had not met the standards outlined by the department, adding that irregularities in construction work including the use of substandard materials led to defects. And to think that this was one of the venues for the Malaysia Games last year!

Following these two incidents, the PWD was dispatched to check Terengganu’s RM123 million Sultan Mahmud Airport, which was also just a year old at the time, and discovered to everyone’s chagrin that the roof (what is this Terengganu fascination with roofs?) was leaking.

And then I read yesterday’s The Star, which blared the headline “Roof disaster II” on their front page! Why didn’t I bat an eyelid? This time, again in Terengganu, a 150 meter-long skylight came crashing down at the soon-to-be-opened RM4.2 million express bus and taxi terminal in Kuala Berang, sending hundreds of sheets of glass crashing down. This time, four workers suffered cuts from the broken glass (pp. N1, N3). Ouch!

Malaysians can build great architectural edifices. In fact, we should be so proud of our capacity to build and build – all in the spirit of Malaysia Boleh! Yes, but in digesting all of the above, it would seem that we are so inventive that our constructions are timed to collapse prematurely. Fortunately, whole buildings have yet to topple over but parts of them have shown to be less resilient. I guess a lot of Malaysians will be very anxious and alarmed when they read about all these happenings, but I urge everybody to stay calm. It’s really nothing to worry about. Terengganu is managed by the ruling UMNO – so they know what they are doing. They have more than 50 years of precious experience in governing this country. They only have our best interests at heart – so we should not be hasty to blame them just because roofs of buildings don’t stay in place and start coming apart. There is obviously a perfectly sound reason to explain all of these.

Let’s be logical, okay? In all four cases, there were problems with the roofs. Malaysia boleh (i.e. can) build all the buildings we want to build but we lacked expertise on roof construction. Okay, I should not generalize. It’s only in Terengganu where we have problems. You and me and everybody else will conveniently infer that the ceilings of buildings are likely to have defects if they are built in that state. Simple logical deduction, right? But that doesn’t explain the whys. I believe there must be a theory that can help explain these phenomena.

Methinks we purposely made flawed roofs. This is to pointedly tell the world that it’s time we adopt an open-air concept for all buildings. What with global warming, all the more reason that we should not trap warm air in these superstructures. If we don’t have confined spaces, then we don’t need air-conditioning. So we save on electricity bills. Without roofs, we have proper ventilation. And we all know that when there’s excellent ventilation, this contributes to a healthy living environment. Terengganu after all, is a coastal state and so sea breezes can push lots of fresh natural air into buildings. In other words, natural ventilation helps improve indoor air quality (the construction industry refers this as IAQ) by reducing the concentration of pollutants in indoor environments, which often experience concentration levels two to five times higher than found outdoors.

Ever wondered why we always sleep more soundly after spending the day on the beach? Well it's because of the sea air. Sea air is charged with healthy negative ions that increase our ability to absorb oxygen. These negative ions help balance levels of serotonin, a body chemical associated with mood and stress. This is the reason that after vacationing you feel more alert, relaxed and energized and after a day spent at a beachfront hotel (suddenly Hyatt Kuantan comes to mind!), you start feeling deeply relaxed and able to rest more soundly. So when we are in Terengganu, because we are by the sea – it’s like being on vacation even if we are not! Get it? Am I sounding convoluted? Can you understand what I am trying to say here?

If you have been to Terengganu or any place where there’s beaches – the sunshine feels different somehow. Don’t you agree? Even if it is hot, but it is not as stifling hot or oppressive hot as in the cities. This is because the sun feels magnified and it makes you feel relaxed in a comfortably warm kind of way. And the heat of the sun has a positive effect on our endocrine system (the part of our body which releases endorphins) which means, these natural feel good chemicals are actually designed to produce a calming effect on us, so that we don’t feel so stressed. And that reminds me too – I recall reading somewhere that the sound of waves alters the wave patterns in the brain soothing us into a deeply calm and relaxed state. So it helps us revitalize our mind and body. What I mean is that by not having roofs – hopefully, we can hear the sound of waves, and when we capture this sound, it’s going to help us in a very healthy way. If you cannot hear anything, then I am really sorry for you and it's not going to help you, hehe.

Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Said publicly chided PWD and the local authorities for failing to regularly monitor the progress of construction of public buildings, according to The Star today (p N8). Aiyah, don’t make a mountain out of a molehill lah! I already said Malaysians have difficulty to multi-task. If the Terengganu authorities are monitoring their citizens’ states of mind (e.g. checking level of endorphins being released, wave patterns in our brains), we cannot expect them to properly supervise the construction of these structures. Nobody died wad – what’s the big deal? And of the four who were injured – only one was a Malaysian, the other three were Bangladeshis. And for all you know, that Malaysian is likely to be a PAS fella – so no big deal lah!

Let’s not detract from the real issue. When our construction people make roofs that will totter and sway and cave in, it was to promote this open-air concept for Malaysian buildings, and they wanted to dramatically demonstrate this. This is because Malaysians often have short attention spans, so only by sensationalizing news (such as roof collapses) will make us sit up and pay attention. Now, aren’t Malaysians innovative? We must admit that to pull this off requires creativity and derringdo. Only Malaysia Boleh can imbue us with these two important qualities.

And hopefully, we will buy this crap, and everybody will soon forget about shoddy workmanship, corrupt practices, and all the other malignant issues that embrace Malaysian society today. Yay-y-y-y! Malaysia Boleh!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Malaysia Boleh Part 1

Malaysians are a CD-type of people. CD? Yes, C for creativity and D for derringdo. That’s why we have this slogan "Malaysia Boleh!" – which loosely translated means "Malaysia Can Do It!" – being bandied about everywhere and anywhere for everything and anything! The "Malaysia Boleh!" spirit has since produced many achievers and achievements, and has been a cornerstone of the success story that is the new Malaysia, albeit with a good measure of creativity – or at least that’s what most of us are led to believe.

So to those non-believers, please set aside any notion that Malaysians have zilch creativity. I am going to relate you a zany story, that borders on the absurd. Life being what it is in Malaysia, we have the choice of laughing or crying, but I feel it is better to laugh. And so I am laughing out loud (or is it shrieking like a hyena) because I am going to reveal an amazing feat that we (meaning, Malaysians) achieved two years ago, but we only decided to boast about it now! Well I suppose, this is one hilarious account of Malaysia Boleh!

This true story illustrates how creative Malaysians can be when they actually outfoxed the formidable Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) by stealing a fighter aircraft engine right under the latter's noses. And it was stolen from the RMAF airbase in Sungai Besi in 2007 – that’s right, two years ago! Newspapers only broke this story on December 19, 2009.

The Armed Forces chief, General Azizan Ariffin wasn’t too upset about it – he sort of dismissed this whole affair by saying: “The missing jet engine does not affect RMAF operations because we have more than 16 F-5E jets and only seven are used for tactical missions” (Webpage, posted December 21, 2009).

If the General knew what he was blabbering about, then I suppose it is alright since he is after all, our Armed Forces chief. It’s okay too even if another 9 engines went missing – he did say, we only need seven mah! So get angry for wad?!

Prime Minister Najib Razak promptly defended his administration today after this embarrassing revelation, saying there was no cover up in the incident which happened while he was Defense Minister (Webpage, posted December 21, 2009). Poor man, but obviously, he was so clueless that he did not know it was not one engine that was stolen, but two engines. Well, none of us knew also, until today, that is. Well, so far only two, for now.

This morning, I had read page 1 of Berita Harian highlighting that a second engine also went AWOL – five months after the first incident. Both of these engines belonged to the F-5E fighter jets – each worth about RM50 million, not an amount to be sneezed at.

These are no ordinary thefts – it involves national security. I mean, if they can be so bold as to steal two engines, they could perhaps even steal the fighter jets. Maybe the RMAF should quickly undertake an inventory check – for all you know, we may have already lost a couple of fighter jets, and we didn’t realize. The Malaysian Insider was appalled that this could happen in Malaysia, and the online newspaper predictably called for heads to roll. Those involved must be tried for nothing less than treason, they trumpeted.
An F-5E interceptor
Please lah, let’s look on the positive side. It’s only engines mah – it could be worse. They could actually have spirited our beloved Prime Minister away and we wouldn’t know. Not that it is such a bad thing for them to do if they really stole Najib away from us – we might all declare ourselves a public holiday and celebrate this occasion because it is good riddance!

Anyway, the government's response and the manner in which the case has been handled so far have been pathetic. We are now being told that the theft was discovered last May. And a police report was lodged only last August – a lapse of three months. Still, we shouldn’t be so quick as to jump the gun and blame RMAF or even the Defense Ministry. They could have been very proactive – a nationwide search could have been quietly done, checking under every Malaysian bed for these engines. It’s not easy lah – checking millions of beds in Malaysia! Those engines could be hidden anywhere. So they were so engrossed with their search mission that they had probably forgotten to make a police report. It’s perfectly understandable. Malaysians don’t know how to multi-task.

Najib of course waded in to confuse the public because today’s The Star (p N4) mentioned Najib as having declared that the Defense Ministry and Royal Malaysia Air Force reported the theft to the police immediately after it (the theft) was discovered. Recognize the word ‘immediately’. Also the word ‘it’. As I’ve said, poor man. Correction, stupid man!

When Najib insisted that there was no cover up – I don’t know why, but rightaway, a foul stench came to my nostrils. Najib wasn’t smelling good – he stank to high heavens, if you ask me.

So, what’s my point again? Malaysia Boleh!

This evening, I was at the Taman Indrahana Toastmasters Club meeting – and for a change, I was not doing my project speech. I did however took part in the Table Topics session and I was the evaluator for Jen Wong, who was starting out on her Advanced Communication manual.

Monday, December 21, 2009

This January

I am finalizing the courses that I will be teaching this January – and so far, 5 and counting. My life is bound to be hectic, if not frenzied. Who says, a teaching career is laidback? But I have chosen this line of work. It is noble, it is satisfying, it is challenging. Didn't somebody said, teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions? But to get an accurate picture of what it is like to be a lecturer, consider what Donald Quin has to say: "If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn't want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher's job".

The KL Advanced Toastmasters Club meeting this evening saw only two speakers – one of whom was me doing my “Ides of March” speech from the Storytelling manual, i.e. Project Speech # 5 Bringing History to Life. Personally I didn’t think I did that great but my evaluator, ACG CL Bill Sim (also President of KL Advanced) thought I did better than okay. Anyway, Bill and even Lucky (also Immediate Past President and the General Evaluator for today) gave some constructive input for me to take home. And I am now one speech away from my ACS qualification. I have bene making very good progress. Incidentally, I was the Humor Master as well as the Table Topics Master for this meeting, and I daresay I exceeded my own expectations. With so many different roles that I have undertaken lately, methinks I should also have qualified as a Competent Leader by now. I hope so.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

It Ain't Easy

Today, I have finally finished marking the Diploma scripts (i.e. MKT2025). This leaves me with just two weeks before the whole academic routine begins again next year. It has been a long and exhausting 50 weeks of teaching, assessing, examining, grading and mentoring. My teaching workload alone works out to something like 1112.5 hours. I don’t think I wish to repeat this feat in 2010. It ain't easy, that's for sure.

Hearts came from behind to beat Celtic 2-1 and leave the Glasgow side trailing Scottish Premier League leaders Rangers by four points.

Celtic had taken the lead when Georgios Samaras poked the ball home after 21 minutes, but Hearts’ Michael Stewart leveled from the penalty spot 12 minutes later. Gary Caldwell was sent off for pulling down Jamie Mole as a result. Still, Celtic's 10 men were the better side after the break, but Hearts’ Ismael Bouzid headed the winner after 76 minutes. Luck deserted us. Sigh.

Christmas Greetings, 2009

Here’s wishing everyone Peace on Earth, Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!

Inaugural Pakatan Rakyat Convention

The very first Pakatan Rakyat convention on December 19, 2009 should be applauded because it showed many people that there is hope for a viable coalition of these three ideologically different political parties to challenge the UMNO-BN stranglehold on our country.

As Din Merican wrote in his blog: “We as Malaysians now have a choice between a corrupt, racist, and repressive one that characterizes UMNO-BN and Pakatan Rakyat which seeks to unite the rakyat and whose policies, plans and programs are founded on justice for all, and honest, open and transparent governance”.

Excerpts from the weblog on the three keynote speeches made by the titans of Keadilan, DAP and PAS can hopefully convince those of us who have yet to embrace the possibilities of a new Malaysia:

“Anwar Ibrahim was the first to take the rostrum. He was at his best with his ‘switch with suppleness from Bahasa Malaysia to English and back, sprinkling some Mandarin and a modicum of Tamil along the way’ (Terence Netto)...His intellectualism and keen grasp of ideas are there for all to see.

Lim Guan Eng was inspired, drawing on his years of political experience. He spoke with extreme confidence as his intense eyes pierced into the audience. His use of Islamic phrases won him many friends, especially PAS members in the audience who obviously understood his message. His us eof ‘amar maaruf nahi mungkar’ (Arabic for enjoining the good and forbidding the bad) and pantun – a dig at UMNO-BN – brought down the house.

Ustaz Abdul Hadi was the last speaker for the morning session. He told the audience not to equate Islamic rule with inferences from UNMO’s example of it, for which he received a round of applause. This is the first time I saw in the PAS leader a man well versed in the history of Islamic civilization, liberally quoting the great historian Ibn Khaldun, in particular the concept of mesyarakat madani (civil society). It was an impressive display of his intellectual depth and openness as he articulated his ideas with panache.

This audience was assured that PAS under the Hadi Presidency is not the ‘devil’ that UMNO tries to depict via its massive propaganda machine. On the contrary, it is a party and a key member of Pakatan Rakyat which is willing, ready, and able to take on the task and responsibilities of governing a plural society. I was personally impressed with his delivery and breath of vision. It is no small wonder; this gentle Ustaz is surrounded by a team of Islamic intellectuals, who embody his progressivism within the Pakatan Rakyat’s common policy framework”.

I certainly agree with Din Merican that Pakatan Rakyat has made an important beginning. The Malaysian road ahead is certainly full of challenges and possibilities, and they have to learn to navigate adroitly and avoid the many potholes that can steer us from our journey.

But our hope has been rekindled: We can trust and believe in government again.

We Must Hope

The Independent on Sunday featured a searing and scorching indictment of Copenhagen in a Joss Garman article that began with a statement that said it all: a “historic failure that will live in infamy”.

And he wrote: “The most progressive US president in a generation comes to the most important international meeting since the Second World War and delivers a speech so devoid of substance that he might as well have made it on speaker-phone from a beach in Hawaii. His aides argue in private that he had no choice, such is the opposition on Capitol Hill to any action that could challenge the dominance of fossil fuels in American life. And so the nation that put a man on the Moon can't summon the collective will to protect men and women back here on Earth from the consequences of an economic model and lifestyle choice that has taken on the mantle of a religion.

Then a Chinese premier who is in the process of converting his Communist nation to that new faith (high-carbon consumer capitalism) takes such umbrage at Barack Obama's speech that he refuses to meet – sulking in his hotel room, as if this were a teenager's house party instead of a final effort to stave off the breakdown of our biosphere.

Late in the evening, the two men meet and cobble together a collection of paragraphs that they call a "deal", although in reality it has all the meaning and authority of a bus ticket, not that it stops them signing it with great solemnity”.

Garman did not mince words about the infamy of their actions. As he barked: “This ‘deal’ is beyond bad. It contains no legally binding targets and no indication of when or how they will come about. There is not even a declaration that the world will aim to keep global temperature rises below C. Instead, leaders merely recognize the science behind that vital threshold, as if that were enough to prevent us crossing it.

The only part of this deal that anyone sane came close to welcoming was the $100 billion global climate fund, but it's now apparent that even this is largely made up of existing budgets, with no indication of how new money will be raised and distributed so that poorer countries can go green and adapt to climate change.

I know our politicians feel they have to smile and claim success; they feel that's the only way to keep this train on the tracks. But we've passed that point – we need to go back to first principles now. We have to admit to ourselves the scale of the problem and recognise that at its core this carbon crisis is, in fact, a political crisis.

Until politicians recognize that, they're kidding themselves, and, more than that, they're kidding us too”.

But to give this whole issue some kind of balanced perspective – after all, we live in this imperfect world where real-life is a masquerade, let me also reproduce excerpts from another article “Our Lost Chance”, also in The Independent on Sunday: “It certainly seems pitiful that a deal that has been two years in the making, and 12 days in face-to-face negotiation should have fallen so far short of the hopes invested in it.

What was achieved in Denmark was no more than the old standby of diplomacy: agreement in principle. That principle is important, of course. For the first time, all the nations of the world accept that climate change is a problem and that they must do something about it”.

And knowing how these international agreements work does help to assuage some of the bitterness many people might have felt about Copenhagen. “First, countries sign up in principle, then they work out the details of what should be done, by whom and who should pay. And the Copenhagen accord contains more than mere expressions of concern and good intentions – although not much more. It sets a C rise in average global temperature above the pre-Industrial-Revolution level as a target limit (although on the basis of this deal it is too late already). And it puts a figure of $100 billion a year on the cash transfer to poorer countries to help mitigate a problem of the rich countries' making. But, frankly, nobody needed to go to Copenhagen for that deal to be struck”.

To me, I believe it’s time civil society take up arms to do what politicians cannot and/or will not. Otherwise, many countries are doomed. We must hope...

Arsenal closed the gap on their rivals at the top of the EPL table after a 3-0 win against Hull City in a feisty encounter.

Denilson contributed the first goal when he curled in a sublime 25-yard free-kick (45+4). Then in the second half, Eduardo finished off a slick move (59) to double the Gunners' advantage, and Abou Diaby lashed in the third after playing a one-two with Andrey Arshavin (80). The Gunners were lucky to win this match – they sure looked heavy-footed and lethargic.

A Liverpool Fan's Anguish

This photo of a Liverpool fan (i.e. Shireen Ng) illustrates the anguish we all feel about yesterday’s 0-2 loss! And it looks like she's gonna drown her sorrow – is that vodka I see in the glass? Hmmm, I wonder if it is Absolut, Smirnoff or Grey Goose?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pompey Triumphs

Liverpool's season of grievous woe continued as they were decisively beaten 0-2 by bottom-of-the-table Portsmouth. I don’t want to talk about it. I DON'T! AND KINDLY SHUT UP!!


I read this BBC News report about Aberdeenshire today (Webpage I am told Aberdeenshire offers the best quality of life in Scotland for its residents, according to a Bank of Scotland survey.

More than nine out of 10 people were said to be in good health, workers had relatively high incomes and almost 75% owned their home. The area also had good results for employment and school qualifications, and rain and sunshine levels.

Bank of Scotland economist Nitesh Patel said: "Aberdeenshire scores highly relative to the average for Scotland on several indicators, such as health, life expectancy, employment, average earnings, school results and climate.

"Two of the top 10 areas for quality of life lie off the Scottish mainland, the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands. "These islands score well on high employment rates, low burglary rates, small class sizes and secondary school exam results."

The survey found Orkney's employment rate of 85.7% was the highest in Scotland, although workers in Stirling had the highest average earnings of £716 a week.

Houses in East Dunbartonshire were the biggest in Scotland, with an average of 4.9 rooms.

The lowest break-in crime rates were in the Western Isles, Dundee had the lowest average annual rainfall, and Aberdeen had the most hours of sunshine on average per week.

West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles said: "I'm not surprised Aberdeenshire has been recognised as the best place to live in Scotland.

"We have excellent schools, a fantastic natural environment to enjoy and tremendous village community life." He added jokingly: "It's such a great place to live, we're trying not to tell anyone."

Hmmm, when can I visit Scotland again…

Failure in Copenhagen

This morning (Malaysian time, that is) the Avaaz-initiated petition (already 13 million names) has become the center of the global revolt against failure in Copenhagen. The names of petition signers were being read out by young people who have taken over spaces in the Copenhagen summit and in governments round the world, including the US State Department and the Canadian Prime Minister's office.

But UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hailed the deal as an “essential beginning”.

Xie Zhenhua, Head of China’s delegation remarked, “The meeting has had a positive result, everyone should be happy. After negotiations both sides have managed to preserve their bottom line. For the Chinese this was our sovereignty and our national interest”.

Jose Manuel Barroso, EU Commission President commented, “I will not hide my disappointment regarding the non-binding nature of the agreement here. In that respect the document falls far short of our expectations”.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy admitted, “The text we have is not perfect... If we had no deal, that would mean that two countries as important as India and China would be freed from any type of contract... the United States, which is not in Kyoto, would be free of any type of contract. That's why a contract is absolutely vital”.

Sergio Serra, Brazil’s Climate Change Ambassador remarked, “It's very disappointing, I would say, but it is not a failure...”

Mohamed Nasheed, Maldives’ President disagreed, “Anything above 1.5 degrees, the Maldives and many small islands and low-lying islands would vanish. It is for this reason that we tried very hard during the course of the last two days to have 1.5 degrees in the document. I am so sorry that this was blatantly obstructed by big-emitting countries”.

Ian Fry, Tuvalu’s lead negotiator was even more blunt: “It looks like we are being offered 30 pieces of silver to betray our people and our future”.

Anyway, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has pledged to lead a campaign to establish a legally binding treaty on tackling climate change as the next step. His Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said he had wanted a stronger outcome.

Miliband spoke as the countries debated the merits of the US-led agreement, which would see a temperature increase limit of 2C (3.6F) and $100 billion dollars to help poorer countries cope. He told BBC Radio 4's Today program: "We would have wanted a more comprehensive agreement, a legally binding one.

"It's good we made a start, in terms of the emissions cuts countries are going to do and crucially, in terms of finance. But that does rely on getting agreement.

"Today's events show the difficulty we face, which is, we are dealing with incredibly complex issues and getting 192 countries signed up. In anyone's book that's not an easy task."

US President Barack Obama said the deal would be a foundation for global action but there was "much further to go".
The Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) will soon pay the ultimate price for this failure – these island states are likely to be the first ones to vanish beneath the rising seas. Yes, Maldives and Tuvalu, to name just two.
For your info: AOSIS is a coalition of small island and low-lying coastal countries that share similar development challenges and concerns about the environment, especially their vulnerability to the adverse effects of global climate change. It functions primarily as an ad hoc lobby and negotiating voice for small-island developing States (SIDS) within the United Nations system.

AOSIS has a membership of 42 States and observers, drawn from all oceans and regions of the world: Africa, Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Pacific and South China Sea. Thirty-seven are members of the United Nations, close to 28 percent of developing countries, and 20 percent of the UN's total membership. Together, SIDS communities constitute some five percent of the global population.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Crisis in the Making

BBC News (Webpage, posted today) reported that leaders have gathered for the final scheduled day of the UN climate summit, amid uncertainty over the shape of any eventual deal.

Achim Steiner, director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), told BBC News: "Only the heads of state can bring this summit to a successful conclusion." He added: "But the summit as of this morning is a summit in crisis."

The stark message for world leaders at Copenhagen is that the proposals on the table – especially from industrialized countries – fall far short of what the world needs," said Keith Allott, head of climate change for WWF in Britain.

Even Barrack Obama acknowledged the importance of reaching a consensus. "This is not fiction, this is science. Unchecked, climate change will pose unacceptable risks to our security, our economies, and our planet". The US President has called on world leaders to come together at the UN climate summit as time runs out on a deal.

Sometime last week, I wrote about Tengku Razaleigh’s complaint that Malaysia had squandered her oil wealth. To give readers an appreciation of how our petrodollars are being depleted and diminished – on your left, you can find a summary of where Petronas’ funds were siphoned to.

We don’t have to think very hard as to the identity of the Prime Minister who gave his approval to these mega-projects and bailouts.
Extracted from weblog, posted December 12, 2009

There's Hope Yet

Malaysia is adopting a voluntary national reduction indicator of up to 40% in terms of GDP emission intensity by 2020 compared with 2005 levels. Najib Razak announced yesterday in Copenhagen that this was part of Malaysia’s contribution towards global efforts to combat climate change despite the long and difficult road ahead. “This is no easy task. In fact, it is nothing short of a herculean endeavor,” he said, adding that the summit offered the best hope for a global framework of co-operation (Star, December 18, 2009, p N2). A good move by Malaysia, and hopefully, it is not just empty rhetoric.

The same newspaper (p W37) also reported that the Danish hosts revived climate talks and Washington backed a US$100 billion fund to aid poor countries as world leaders tried to reach a deal on global warming. As French President Nicolas Sarkozy said, ‘Time is against us, let’s stop posturing. A failure in Copenhagen would be a catastrophe for each and every one of us”. And German Chancellor Angela Merkel asserted, “If each and everyone does a little bit more than we can do this”.

The 'Wave' Protest

On December 05, 2009, tens of thousands of people joined a climate change march in central London calling for world leaders to agree a deal to protect the environment at their negotiations in Copenhagen. If I was in London on that day, I’ll be sure to join in:

The Star (December 16, 2009, p N6) reported that an estimated 20,000 Malaysians are overstaying in Britain. And now because this persistent problem will not go away, the UK government is going to penalize Malaysia by introducing the visa rules – likely to be from 2011. And if this policy is implemented, Malaysians will have to pay RM1,200 in processing fees – which is non-refundable even if the visa application is unsuccessful.

Right now, Malaysians are enjoying a visa-free status and we can remain in Britain without a visa for up to 6 months. This expected ruling is going to upset me, for sure!

The Pussycat Balls was supposed to perform at the Forget Not Christmas event this Saturday, but the untimely pullout by 3 members meant that we have to forget about doing the Girls’ Generation dance. I am so disappointed. I was actually looking forward to it....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Petition to Copenhagen

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an impassioned appeal to 3,000 Avaaz members on a global conference call on Wednesday, calling for an historic 48-hour Internet-based campaign to mobilize citizens from around the world. The idea is to get as many people as possible to register that they want a real climate deal in Copenhagen. I signed this Avaaz-organized petition just awhile ago and joined over 11 million people (11,078,015 to be exact) to make the call for an agreement to stop catastrophic climate change. This is really about bringing global people power to Copenhagen.

For those who don’t know about Avaaz, is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means "voice" in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in Ottawa, London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Buenos Aires, and Geneva.

Nazri Gives The Finger

Enough with the racism, says Nazri

Finally, an UMNO politician and Government minister has the courage to call a spade a spade! Nazri Aziz had reproached Utusan Malaysia for their ‘outdated’ racist propaganda, saying the Umno-owned newspaper must accept that Malaysia is a multi-racial country. Do you mean to say, after more than 50 years of Independence, we have to remind Malaysians that this country is multi-ethnic? It's a joke, right? Anyway...

“They should stop it because how would we (the Malays) like it if people say that Malays are lazy and stupid? We would also get angry. Don’t do to others what we don’t want others to do unto us,” the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department told The Malaysian Insider (Webpage, posted December 16, 2009).

Utusan has been a mouthpiece for Umno ultra-nationalists and a tool for defending the party’s ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ (Malay supremacy) policy.

The newspaper has also been criticized for being used to attack the opposition and ratcheting up racial tensions.

And the UMNO-owned newspaper was responsible for running daily stories criticizing calls to allow former communist leader Chin Peng to return to Malaysia, linking it to what the newspaper says are moves to question Malay rights.

The paper even suggested that DAP was anti-Islam and said Anwar Ibrahim was willing to betray the Malays to be prime minister – both incendiary subjects in mainly Malay-Muslim Malaysia.

Their articles have labeled the Chinese community as ‘pendatang’ (immigrants) and the Indian community as ‘keling’. Nazri added that Malaysians can longer accept categorizing minorities with derogatory names.

What is bewildering is that we are talking about an UMNO-owned newspaper, not just any Malay-owned newspaper.

There’s not even a whinny squeak from the Prime Minister or his deputy. Strange, Najib and Muhyiddin have been very silent on these issues. Very strange!

And to add insult to injury, the other political entities within BN like the MCA, MIC, Gerakan, etc have also been silent. But what can we expect from them? They are just mosquitoes after all. If they make too much buzz, UMNO will swat, smack and whack them off the face of the earth.

The ongoing Teoh Beng Hock inquest which was scheduled to resume today was postponed for a second time as pathologists have yet to complete their report on his second autopsy. This case has now been fixed for mention on January 07, Teoh family lawyer Gobind Singh said today. Those doing the report must have made many interesting discoveries – otherwise, they wouldn’t need two postponements to report on the same conclusion, i.e. death by suicide. I guess, in Malaysia, nothing is surprising anymore. It suffices to say it is taking an unusual amount of time to write a second report, whereas the first report was done in double-quick time.

Liverpool relieved the pressure on manager Rafael Benitez with a morale-boosting 2-1 victory over Wigan. David Ngog's glanced header (9) put the Reds ahead and the second goal came when Fernando Torres tapped in at the second attempt (79) to seal the win before Wigan’s Charles N'Zogbia scored an injury-time consolation strike (90+2). Whether this Liverpool win will be a false dawn like the other wins remains to be seen. But I reckon it is a good re-start for the Reds.

In the Arsenal-Burnley match, Cesc Fabregas struck early (7) as Arsenal started superbly at Turf Moor. But Thomas Vermaelen's foul on Burnley’s Andre Bikey allowed Graham Alexander to equalize (28), as Burnley held Arsenal to a 1-1 draw in this EPL encounter. Both teams hit the woodwork – Burnley twice and Arsenal once – and enjoyed a glut of other chances but neither could find a winner. Again, poor finishing by the Gunners.

Climate Stories

The Star (December 15, 2009, p N30) had reported that GreenWatch in collaboration with the NGO coalition called Climate Action Network – which monitors countries on their initiatives to cut greenhouse gas emissions and implement good climate policies – have ranked Malaysia in 50th position, an improvement from last year’s 52nd position. Actually being a citizen of KL, I am not really sure in how we have improved. My impression is that things have worsened because I see the vanishing greenery. Concrete is displacing trees and we are all getting hot under the collar, literally speaking.

Notwithstanding this meager revision, it still puts the country behind Indonesia, which stands at 23rd, and Singapore at 40th. According to this report, the 3 countries were among 57 countries that are responsible for more than 90% of the world’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.

And in Copenhagen, things don’t look at all promising. “Countries and blocks of countries have come here with very hard positions,” Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo said in a Tuesday interview in Copenhagen. “You need some seismic shifts to really close a deal” (Webpage, posted December 16, 2009).