Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween 'Trick or Treat'

Yesterday, we had our Halloween celebration at HICT – there were lots of photo opportunities for everyone, including me!

And in the evening, SNHU students and friends rang up the curtains for the 'Trick or Treat' show. There were different performances – all of which I am personally thrilled about. I have been reliably informed that our HICT performance outdid the two Halloween shows at HUC! Now, that's something to talk about!

And I personally think this year's show was better than last year's and of course, the Pussycat Balls act alone was worth the price of the admission ticket – nope, I stand corrected. They are worth more than that – they are indeed worth a zillion dollars because we are not going to see them anytime again, right? These performers are exceptional, not to mention extraordinary! They are a class act that is entertaining, enticing, and enjoyably erotic!

Brandon (Wee Han) with the Pussycat Balls

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Picture Perfect

Three more photos for the Picture Perfect competition tomorrow. The trio consisting of SNHU freshmen Charmine Ee, Pei Ling and Chih Yin are dressed up as Dolls, Cheryl Tsienlee (SNHU freshman) as the ‘walking dead’ assassin, and Cindy (Foundation) as the Angel. Guys, can you please close your mouths? Just buy the admission tickets to get up-close with them!

Yesterday, we had our regular HICT Toastmasters meeting – and this means that we have now effectively moved our meetings to Wednesdays. It was encouraging to see all 12 of our members attending this meeting – 4 of whom are new members, Jonathan (staff), Desmond (SNHU freshman), Vincent (SNHU freshman) and Jamie (A-Levels). Even better still, all 4 of them did their maiden assignment speeches, i.e. The Ice-Breaker. I was the General Evaluator – and my only beef was that we should be more time-disciplined.

Yesterday as well, Arsenal proved too strong for Liverpool as they beat the Reds 2-1 to book a Carling Cup quarter-final spot. Merida (19) and Bendtner (50) contributed the two goals for Arsenal, while Insua (26) replied for Liverpool. Never mind, Liverpool – your task at hand is to win the EPL – you cannot permit those cloven-footed pretenders to grab hold of the crown this season.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Carlsberg - Probably the Best Beer in the World

On October 07, I wrote about Malaysia hiking up excise duties on tobacco products – as a way to finance a debt-ridden national economy. Usually, it is either tobacco or alcohol or worse, both product categories that will get this special treatment. So I did not bat an eyelid when I read this news on the Net from Russia today. Supposedly, the Russian Ministry of Finance is contemplating to increase the excise duty on beer by 200 percent, purportedly to bring in an extra 65 billion roubles ($2.25 billion) of revenue next year to plug the budget deficit of the recession-hit Russian economy. Obviously this has sparked real concern to Carlsberg that Joergen Rasmussen, chief executive of the Danish brewer himself had to flag that this brazen plan could cost the country 100,000 jobs and may even prompt the company to shutter factories. Carlsberg owns Baltika, and it is by far, the largest brewer in Russia with some 40 percent of the market. As a beer company, they would expect to be at the receiving end, and so tax hikes are pretty much expected. In the markets where this brewer operates, the average duty increase usually amounts to 5-10 percent, sometimes even 20 or 30 percent, but 200 percent is really exorbitantly steep.

Sometimes, I wonder what the world is coming to. Why are government bureaucrats such wet blankets that they target and penalize the one product that is probably the world’s best form of simple enjoyment? Yep, you got it, beer. Because if you ask me, a good beer is indeed, one of life’s greatest pleasures. There is an Egyptian proverb that I remember that says “The mouth of a perfectly happy man is filled with beer”. How very true! There’s nothing like sipping (okay, some of you don’t sip, but quaff) ice-cold beer, whether in the company of friends or by yourself, whether in a pub, coffee-shop, or at home. And admittedly, Carlsberg is the beer many of us can identify with. What’s more, for us who are Liverpool fans, there is no other beer than Carlsberg! Honest, it is probably the world’s best beer for football occasions. So, I am now using Alan Tan's notebook and posting my take on my favorite beer, and at the same time, drinking ice-cold beer that can only be Carlsberg. My mind lights up. With Carlsberg, there is clarity, y’see. I recall a Homer Simpson quote: “I’m gonna drink lots of beer and stay out all night”. Cheers!

Andrew the Valedictorian

As this year’s graduation ceremony approaches, and preparations are being quietly made for October 31, I can only see four names – who have qualified for the Gold Key awards – from a list of 40 plus graduands. Just in case you’re wondering, the Gold Key award is presented to students who have earned a CGPA of 3.5 and above. Admittedly, not as easy as we all think! Anyway, this year's Gold Key winners are: Chan Chee Sum (Andrew); Fua Hsien Ming; Ng Ke Xin; and Sarah Beth.

And what’s even better is that Andrew has been selected as the valedictorian. He is most deserving of all the candidates from the graduating class. He has a CGPA of 3.78 (the highest grades) and he has been actively involved in a host of activities from US Mart to Student Representative Council. And more so, because he is SNHU! Congrats, Andrew!

Given that Halloween is just around the corner, I thought it is not inappropriate to mention that exactly two weeks ago, on this day itself, I had experienced the shivers. I had seen the undisguised face of corrupt malevolence. I had seen evil. Help, I need an exorcist.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween Publicity Photos

SNHU students featuring Farazatul Balqish (sophomore) as a witch, Desmond Ng (freshman) as the Devil and Vincent Tong (freshman) as the ‘walking dead’ hitman in a photo promo for Trick or Treat! As I have said, this will be a blast of a show! Don’t miss it!

I had been reading with great interest an interesting book titled “Barack, Inc.” by Barry Libert and Rick Faulk – it’s about the winning business lessons of the Obama campaign. And I agree that one contributing factor is his adroit use of all the social technologies of our time – blogs, discussion boards, viral videos, texting, and cell-phone networks to connect with his constituencies. And just as he created a grassroots community (, I wanted to do the same with!
And so far, it is still work in progress. My idea is to create a nexus of blogs linked to one another – all of them promoting SNHU – and I am using the format of blogs as a first step to accomplish this. The blogs are to give the general public a behind-the-scenes look at SNHU Malaysia because we are blogging as a story, and even as a journey, that our students and other stakeholders are embarking on. Through our anecdotes and narratives, we hope to engage and draw as many people to our blogs – the best part about blogs is how accessible they are to everyone. If we can interest and involve people, then we can ‘impress’ them of the benefits of studying at SNHU Malaysia. In other words, these blogs become our marketing tools.
I am thankful to have Heng Shen spearheading this project. I remain confident that in the next 48 hours, we will see 2 (new) blogs making an official appearance: and And the reason we are targeting these two to kick off this initiative is because we will be having our Halloween event this Friday and Graduation ceremony this Saturday! So do check out these blogs this Friday…

This evening, I went to the Taman Indrahana Toastmasters Club meeting, and participated in the Table Topics session only. It’s great to see everybody again, and especially meeting up with LeAnn Tang and Foong Weng Tuck too. This is definitely one club where there's oodles and oodles of fun and laughter, that I always leave the meeting with a song in my heart and a beat in my step. That's why I love to come back again and again!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Planning my ACS Assault

I have begun planning my next assault to capture the Advanced Communicator Silver honor. I am putting together a speaking schedule that will embrace at least 7 Toastmasters clubs and already, I am readying myself to start next week itself! Talk about commitment and dedication!

Yesterday, I posted a photo of Man U players, a distressing depiction of dispirited disappointment. Today, it is a photo of jubilant Liverpool players who are overcome with jocularity and joie de vivre. What a contrast. I don’t mean to rub it in (again), but Liverpool won! And Manchester United lost!

Autumn Fest

This is another publicity poster on the Halloween event at HICT – besides the Trick or Treat show, we are going to have Autumn Fest, an extravaganza of great food and lotsa fun (specifically the Picture Perfect Competition). Do come, folks!

I am still filled with delirious euphoria over Liverpool’s emphatic victory. I am intoxicated with rapturous joy that the Devils had deservedly lost! I am in seventh heaven! I am as pleased as punch! It's a great feeling!!

And here’s a photo of dejected Man U players, looking very despondent and down! On a beautiful Sunday, Liverpool earned three precious points at Man U's expense. Hooray!
In Arsenal's case, I didn’t see the whole match. Just before I took my eyes off the screen, the score was two goals in Arsenal’s favor – but regrettably, the Gunners lost their focus, and West Ham cleverly capitalized on it, and the match ended in a 2-2 draw. A wasteful effort from Arsenal. Arsene Wenger should rightfully, be furious!

Victorious Liverpool!

It was great to see Fernando Torres trooping onto the field for this crucial and decisive match. I know he will score, and he did! Anyway, the game started with Anfield in full voice, and Liverpool dominating and attacking at every opportunity. In fact, Edwin van der Sar twice denied Fabio Aurelio and Dirk Kuyt, but in the end, could not prevent Torres when he outpaced Rio Ferdinand before firing a vicious shot past the Man U goalkeeper (65). And late in stoppage time, David Ngog sealed victory for the Reds when he calmly slotted the ball into the net (90+6). Liverpool convincingly beat Manchester United 2-0. To Owais, Eugene, Mathew and all the other misguided Man U fans: Now that Man U has lost, I could make monkeys out of all of you, but why should I take all the credit? Hahahaha!!!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thailand's Fearless 'Dr. Death'

There has been lots of interest here about Dr. Pornthip Rojanasunand, Director of the Forensic Science Institute, Ministry of Justice, Thailand, since she came to Malaysia. So I thought I will do some research in order to find out more about this extraordinary forensic pathologist.

BBC News did a write-up on her on June 11, 2009 (Webpage
Forensic pathologist is the last job to spring to mind when you see Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand. She is wearing jangly bracelets and skin tight jeans. But what really stands out – and up – is her spiky red hair.

Her fashion sense helped determine her career choice.

As a girl she loved medicine, but since doctors in Thailand are expected to dress and behave conservatively, she decided to shun patients in favor of corpses.

"The dead can't criticize me," she says, "so I wear what I like".

She does not always go for acid colours, though. On the cover of one of her best-selling true life crime books she appears draped in virginal white silk, cradling a skull.

It is not just Dr Pornthip's looks and books which are unconventional. So is her attitude to the police. She has been at odds with them for more than 20 years, ever since a case involving one of her own medical students.

The student was killed by her jealous boyfriend, who chopped her body into 168 pieces. Police found a blood stain in the boyfriend's car, but failed to act on it. Dr Pornthip finally got permission to search his flat, found another bloodstain on the bathroom floor and established that it was the victim's. Then she found human remains in the toilet tank. The case was a sensation and alerted many Thais to the importance of DNA evidence.

From webpage, accessed October 25, 2009, some interesting facts about Dr. Pornthip Rojanasunand (born December 21, 1955):

“Dubbed Dr Death, she spends more time with the dead than the living, a fact which apparently terrified her husband. She’s married to a bank manager in Bangkok and they have a teenage daughter. She writes books about her work in her spare time. Her favorite TV show is unsurprisingly “CSI: Miami”. She sleeps for only 4 hours a day, a habit that started when she entered her profession 30 years ago.”
A passionate advocate of human rights, Dr. Pornthip's work has been honoured by King Bhumibol, who gave her the honorary title 'Khunying', which is the Thai equivalent of Dame in 2003.

Celtic returned to the top of the Scottish Premier League table with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Hamilton. Shaun Maloney's scissor-kick attempt in the 15th minute put the Bhoys ahead after a drab opening period. On the half hour, Scott McDonald skipped past the Hamilton defense to fire past their goalmouth. A good win.

Trick or Treat Tickets on Sale!

Trick or Treat, HICT’s Halloween Show this coming Friday is going to be a blast. And look at the tickets. They’re so creatively done!!! They must be the work of my students who have done Marketing with me, hehe!! C'mon everybody, get your tickets now! I already did.

In one of my previous postings, I had mentioned the untimely death of so-called witness Teoh Beng Hock in MACC’s hands. I had refrained from commenting on this subject because I didn’t want to get caught in the delicate web of fragile emotions that are entangling everybody – it’s easy to get fuming mad about this issue because a young man who was about to get married died prematurely. But even now, raw emotions are still at play because a needless death had occurred. Authorities had claimed that Teoh fell out of the window; there was no foul play - at least according to two local pathologists and the police. Yet, the public perception differs because our law-enforcement agencies are widely believed to be brutish and callous in their interrogation methods. Remember Kugan?

Yet, it was still shocking to hear Thai pathologist, Dr. Pornthip Rojanasunand – who gained international prominence from her work in identifying the 2004 Asian tsunami victims – giving her opinion on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 about results of the autopsy on Teoh Beng Hock, that there was “80 percent chance of homicide and only 20 percent chance of suicide despite a local pathologist Dr. Khairul Aznam Ibrahim from the Hospital Tengku Rahimah Ampuan in Klang giving nine reasons why he thought Teoh would have killed himself while being a witness for alleged abuse of a paltry sum of government funds” (Webpage, dated October 21, 2009). She had dug deep into her 27 years of experience conducting some 10,000 post-mortems, of which more than 100 dealt with fatal falls, before she opined that Teoh was probably murdered. She had testified that Teoh “was indeed alive when he hit the ground but added that he was unconscious, judging from the lack of injuries to his wrists and ankles. She explained that if he were still conscious when he fell, there would have been ‘reaction wounds’ to show he had instinctively tried to stop from hitting the ground. She said that Teoh’s injuries showed he could have been strangled and that he sustained anal penetration before he fell to his death on July 16. Dr. Pornthip added that Teoh could have passed out as an outcome of the strangulation or from the pain from injuries to his anal region”. Read The Malaysian Insider’s article at webpage, also dated October 21 and you, like me will be numbed and outraged by it all. One cannot read this article and not bristle with anger. Justice must bear upon those who have inflicted torture upon defenseless Teoh and caused his sudden death.

Below is an excerpt from a news report in The Star (Webpage, dated October 22): Thai forensic pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand is willing to conduct a post mortem on Teoh Beng Hock if his remains were to be exhumed.

She told coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas she would be able to come up with a more concise and detailed analysis if she could examine Teoh’s remains.

To a question by counsel holding a watching brief for Teoh’s family, Gobind Singh Deo, Dr Pornthip said she would still be able to conduct the post mortem in spite of the deceased having been buried almost four months ago.

Asked whether the exhumation of Teoh’s remains for the purpose of the second post mortem would put her at a disadvantage, she said no.

She admitted that there would be ‘limitations’ due to decomposition if a second postmortem was delayed.

However, she reiterated that she could still do so at this stage.

Meanwhile, counsel for the government – Tan Hock Chuan – ruffled Dr Pornthip’s feathers yesterday when he suggested she did not have the locus standi to arrive at her opinion.

“Since you did not conduct the post mortem or inspect the body or go to the scene of the incident and you are not furnished with all the reports and photos, is it appropriate to form an opinion on mathematical terms that suicide is 20% and homicide 80%?” asked Tan.

Dr Pornthip replied that she only based her opinion on the evidence provided.

She said she did not take sides and that her work involved taking care of the rights of the people, especially the dead.

Isn’t she awesome? An amazing lady who knows what she is talking about and who is not afraid to speak her mind and share the truth with us! If only our own Malaysian pathologists have the courage – but I suspect these local experts are not cowardly as much as they are grossly incompetent! Bungling Dr. Khairul Aznam, why you so blur-blur?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

2010 Budget

Now that the 2010 Budget has been announced, I will make my observations. It seems to me that it contains lots of familiar platitudes, peppered by stylish triteness and popular verbiage. Consider the campy slogan "1 Malaysia, Together We Prosper"). Honest, I feel queasy already! What I am trying to say here is that I didn’t find the Budget arresting or impressive.

When Prime Minister Najib Razak (who is also finance minister) was tabling the Budget yesterday, he made a brave statement that despite the projected reduced revenue, the government is expected to bring down the deficit to 5.6 per cent next year by reducing expenditure (about RM192 billion or about a tenth less than 2009), thus reflecting the government’s responsibility of keeping the country’s finances in good shape.

That is not just challenging but also ambitious. Personally, I am of the view that before we even look at reducing expenditure – we should tackle the leakages and wastages inherent in the disbursement of public funds. Just last Monday, the Auditor-General’s Report 2008 has already highlighted how negligent government institutions are, when spending our money. And we have not yet considered the impact of corruption. Only last month, Transparency International has reported that corruption could cost Malaysia as much as RM10 billion a year. All of this is draining our coffers, money that we can ill-afford to lose. Our budget deficit is already swimming in red ink, and we don’t need these fiscal misadventures to drown us all.

Sure, here and there, there are some small goodies for the rakyat, but I don’t see any major initiatives for the middle class wage-earner. In an economic downturn, this demographic group suffers the most, and they will see their disposable incomes fall conspicuously. I subscribe to the belief that we should help this segment of the population in order to help the country overcome the economic slump. But as in the stimulus packages, sad to say, the middle class is often overlooked.

In any case, the strategies Najib unveiled lacked details, and clarity is also evidently absent in his pronouncements. So we will just have to wait and see how he will translate abundant words into positive action.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ferguson Admits

Today, UK's The Independent screams this headline in the Sports News section: “Anything can happen at Anfield”. Alex Ferguson was of course referring to Manchester United's biggest fixture on Sunday – a clash with Liverpool. And rightly so. If Ferguson can bring himself to say this – Liverpool will not be pushovers – even if without Gerrard and Torres. I predict Liverpool to win!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

TI turns 85

Today is Toastmasters International 85th Anniversary, and so Toastmasters everywhere should pause for a minute or two on this day to reflect on what it means to be a Toastmaster, and how much of a difference it has made to our personal and professional lives. I am pleased to reproduce a portion of an email sent by Gary Schmidt, International President – a message in our Inbox that was waiting patiently to be read: “October 22 is an auspicious date for Toastmasters around the world. It marks the day that a small group of people, led by Dr. Ralph C. Smedley, held the first official Toastmasters meeting in the basement of a YMCA in Santa Ana, California, USA.

While the original intent of the group was to teach after-dinner speeches to young men, as we all know, Toastmasters has evolved to become a worldwide leader in communication and leadership development. This evolution was no accident; Dr. Smedley firmly believed that the improvement of a person's ability to communicate his or her ideas was a means of improving life in all its phases, personal as well as professional. It's a philosophy that resonates as clearly today as it did back in 1924.”

This message serves to remind us of how Toastmasters started 85 years ago and how it has evolved through the years, and leaving its precious imprint on its members – this blogger included. I am immensely enjoying this Toastmaster journey, and although I consider myself a newbie (being only in my second year as a Toastmaster) – I have achieved a lot! I became a member on July 01, 2008 and since then I had served as a Chartered President, completed my Advanced Communicator Bronze, visited at least 9 Toastmasters Clubs, performed roles from TME and General Evaluator to Grammarian and Evaluator, participated in Table Topics sessions and competed at the Area-level Humor and Evaluation Contests. And nope, I don’t think Toastmasters has changed my life yet, but I have truly benefited in more ways than one.

I attended a HUC student function, which was the Uganda-Nigeria Joint Independence Celebration. A busload of HICT students and staff went to Bandar Pusat Damansara to support this event yesterday. We did not have any Ugandan representation, but we have Gift, Joshua, Bright and Bashir representing Nigeria from amongst our Klang contingent. An interesting event and the pictures below tell a fun-filled story:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Liven Up a Meeting

I find meetings so boring and stodgy, and most of the time, it's just a load of BS. I am of course referrign to HICT management meetings. Sometimes I wonder what their purpose is. A good way to liven up a meeting is to spill coffee on the conference table, produce a little paper boat and sail it down the table! And why not? At least, it keeps us entertained for awhile.

I had a good laugh today when I read in The Malaysian Insider that Deputy Home Minister Abu Seman Yusop had announced in Parliament that the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Musa Hassan’s contract was renewed because of his “excellent performance”.

DAP’s Lim Kit Siang was quick to lambast Musa as “incompetent” because the country’s crime rate had taken flight and soared. Despite even government statistics showing that lawlessness had escalated, that it has become a major public concern – Abu Seman defended the IGP, insisting that he had performed to expectations, that he had met all the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) set by the Chief Secretary to the Government.
Wonderful! Now this could serve as a nice bedtime story – one that is light-hearted, farcical and downright hilarious. Good night!

Another Public Holiday

Najib, I suspect, is keeping himself very busy in order that he can crown himself champion in the popularity stakes – yesterday, in Parliament, he declared September 16 a public holiday – to mark the day Malaysia was formed 46 years after the fact (New Straits Times, October 20, 2009, p 1). Remember his other ‘well-received’ initiatives: 1Malaysia and GTP (Government Transformation Program) with their KPIs? Whether they make sense don’t really count because the rakyat is supposed to feel good about them, and that is all that matters. Whether these are all just catchy slogans and fantastic packaging of timeless concepts don’t cut ice because we are supposedly a superficial people who are easily appeased and placated.

Malaysia already sits on top of the world with the most number of public holidays – so having another one is “one too many”. How can we be productive if there is so much time off? I mean, the public holidays are so generous that I can be well-rested, that I don’t even need to take any annual leave! Honest!

On the other hand, it is an important day for Malaysians and one that is belatedly acknowledged and finally recognized. I guess its time has finally arrived.
But the fact remains that there are many of us like our ex-Premier Mahathir Mohamad who worry about this excessive embrace of public holidays. He was reported to be lamenting the fact that the country is going overboard with too many public holidays, that we'd rather holiday than work. And The Malaysian Insider poured a bucketful of mocking cynicism over this whole issue, when it commented: “Successive BN governments have ignored calls to make Malaysia Day a holiday. Najib’s administration is now acknowledging the significance of the votes from Sabah and Sarawak”. It does seem that way, doesn’t it? Anyway, Najib has indicated, “Malaysians will celebrate two national days” and the citizenry will no doubt, dutifully rejoice.

But I don’t think we will see the end of this appetite for public holidays. Very soon, Malaysians will demand for (additional) public holidays for Ponggal, Vasakhi, Mid-Autumn Festival, Good Friday, Chap Goh Meh, and other commemorative days, and maybe, Rosmah’s birthday even. And when this happens, Malaysians will grudgingly grasp the sad fact that we have finally descended into the demented depths of loony ludicrousness. And as we love to say, Malaysia Boleh!

Monday, October 19, 2009

MKT113 Damsels

I was given a photo of one of four groups of my students who did their MKT113 presentation last Friday, and I promised to post it in my blog. So here it is! These students, Gift, Rekha, Previnah and Mahala (L-R) are always sitting in the front row, and paying rapt attention to my lectures. Or at least, I like to think that they are hanging on to every word that I am verbalizing. Unless, their minds are wandering and I do not know. Their eyes are very much glued to where I am standing – they could still have fooled me. So far, they have done well in their three tests – so I am not complaining.

This evening, I was at the KL Advanced Toastmasters meeting and I took on the role of a General Evaluator. I am learning well and I believe I have eclipsed my previous performance (in the same role). I am constantly scrutinizing every one of my presentations and critically engaging in self-evaluation, irrespective of what role I do because I earnestly want to excel. Aye, I am deadly serious about Toastmastering. Anyway, I am taking a short and sweet break from speechmaking, but I hope to commence my Advanced Communicator Silver orations this November.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Underwater Declaration

Maldivian Cabinet members donned scuba gear and used hand signals yesterday at an underwater meeting staged to highlight the threat of global warming to the lowest-lying nation on earth – its 1,192 islands average just 7 feet (2.1 meters) above sea level. Maldives is grappling with the very likely possibility that it will go under water if the current pace of climate change keeps raising sea levels.

President Mohammed Nasheed and 13 other government officials submerged and took their places on the sea floor – 20 feet (6 meters) below the surface of a lagoon off Girifushi – to ink a document calling on all countries to cut their carbon dioxide emissions. “What we are trying to make people realize is that the Maldives is a frontline state. This is not merely an issue for the Maldives but for the world,” Nasheed had said (New Sunday Times, October 18, 2009 p 39).

An excellent publicity initiative to gather international attention on this issue of climate change and rising sea levels.

SNP Rocks!

Yesterday, Scotland’s Daily Express reported the Scottish National Party (SNP) claim that Scotland could recover more quickly from the recession if it was not for being “dragged down” by London, the Scottish National Party (SNP) conference was told on Friday (i.e. October 16). SNP is a left leaning nationalist party advocating secession from the United Kingdom. That’s right – independence is the only option for Scotland. I am glad to note that the SNP is gaining from strength to strength.

The party’s Treasury spokesperson, Stewart Hosie, labeled the economic downturn as the “Labour recession” and said it had led to jobs and businesses being lost throughout the country. Hosie also said the Union had caused Scotland to share 100,000 lost manufacturing jobs and £70 billion of UK debt. “There is no Union dividend. We need fiscal powers and we need independence,” he told delegates. I am reminded of the same kind of situation that both Sarawak and Sabah have found themselves in. The only difference is that a significant segment of Scots has been vocal.

Still on Scotland, Celtic surrender top spot in the Scottish Premier League as they fail to convert a host of chances against a well-organized and defensive-minded Motherwell side. Final result 0-0. What lah! A disappointing result, nevertheless.

Liverpool's stuttering season took a turn for the worse as they were beaten 0-1 by a Sunderland side who went above them in the Premier League table. The Black Cats went ahead when a Darren Bent shot was allowed to stand after deflecting in off a beach ball, which a Reds fan had thrown on to the pitch. That goal should have been disallowed - it was due to a foreign object (i.e. beach ball) interfering with play. Obtuse referee! Of course, I should also mention that Dirk Kuyt and David Ngog attempts at goal did not materialise - which is again, a very sad state of affairs for the Reds.

This fourth defeat of the league season will only add to the question marks over Liverpool's title credentials after they were outplayed without injured midfielder Steven Gerrard and striker Fernando Torres. Come what may, we must believe Liverpool can still deliver.

Arsenal were not quite at their clinical best but still proved too strong for Birmingham at the Emirates. The Gunners won 3-1. Robin van Persie opened the scoring with a precise, low drive across goal (16) after Alex Song had played him in. Abou Diaby doubled the lead when he smashed in a rising shot (18) before Lee Bowyer pulled one back for Birmingham (38). Arshavin sealed Arsenal's victory six minutes from time (84). This Gunners' win is the only favorable news to cheer me up.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hunger Update

An update on my posting last Thursday.

Yesterday was World Food Day – proclaimed in 1979 by the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It marks the date of the founding of FAO in 1945. The aim of the Day is to heighten public awareness of the world food problem and strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty.
BBC News (, accessed today) highlighted ActionAid, a development charity that has released a report, Hunger Free, to coincide with UN World Food Day, where it trumpets that hunger is "a choice that we make, not a force of nature".

"Hunger begins with inequality," it says, and then grows because of "perverse policies that treat food purely as a commodity, not a right".

"It is because of these policies that most developing countries no longer grow enough to feed themselves, and that their farmers are amongst the hungriest and poorest people in the world," says ActionAid.

In fact, just two days earlier, BBC News had carried another report (, accessed today) – the UN's annual report on global food security, confirming that more than one billion people – a sixth of the world's population – are undernourished.

"No nation is immune and, as usual, it is the poorest countries and the poorest people that are suffering the most," said the annual report of the UN's FAO and the World Food Programme.

This report even depicts the Global Hunger Index – a survey published by the International Food Policy Research Unit (IFPRI) – that reveals that countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo has seen the steepest rise in hunger since 1990, followed by Burundi, the Comoros and Zimbabwe; while others have dramatically improved levels of malnutrition since 1990, including Vietnam, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Mexico. Psst, Malaysia is in the improved category, in position # 7.

The survey describes a "food price crisis", with prices settling at levels too high for many people in developing countries. So, let's remember not to squander and waste food because there are those who go hungry every day. More importantly, what are we doing about it?