Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chile's Turn

Hardly had the dust settled down on Haiti when fitful Mother Nature crashed her tectonic plates and then went into seismic convulsions. This time, Chile was the target – a 8.8 magnitude earthquake on a Saturday morning. The epicenter of the quake was 115 km (70 miles) north-east of Concepcion and 325 km south-west of Santiago. Even now, as I write in my blog, Chilean officials and ministers are still trying to come to terms with the scale of the disaster.

And just in case we think Haiti no longer commands front page news, please take note that about a million Haitians are still homeless following last month’s earthquake which killed up to 230,000 people. And news reports today talk of heavy rains triggering deadly Haiti floods. The Haiti people do need our help!

Today’s SPL game between Celtic and Rangers should see the former triumph over the latter but instead for the most part of the game, it threatened to end in a scoreless draw. Well, until Rangers’ Maurice Edu broke the deadlock by shooting from close range low into the middle of the goal with seconds remaining. Rangers 1-0 Celtic.

Singing Susan

Okay, after yesterday’s posting about Susan Boyle – I thought I should showcase her singing talent.

I know more than 6 million people have already heard her sing, but it is worth to listen again. The Scottish singer became a YouTube sensation after her 2009 appearance on "Britain's Got Talent," on which she sang "I Dreamed a Dream": It was great singing, by the way.

In fact, just to set the record straight, the most famous insults directed at Susan Boyle were made by a woman, Brit music manager Sharon Osbourne.

She had in a US radio interview put down Susan Boyle by saying that she looked like “a hairy arsehole”. Plus other vicious vituperation – see the following video clip:

Ugly duckling or not – Susan Boyle’s got talent!

And in the EPL, Arsenal whipped Stoke 3-1. But it was the latter which had taken the lead in the 8th minute when Danny Pugh headed in from Rory Delap's long throw-in but Nicklas Bendtner levelled with a fine header back across goal (32). And just when we thought we had to settle for a draw, Cesc Fabregas scored a penalty (90+1) before Thomas Vermaelen tapped in (90+4), as Arsenal – still in third place – moved to only three points off Chelsea.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Ugly Duckling

I came across photos of the new-look Susan Boyle, and was reminded of the Hans Christian Andersen story of The Ugly Duckling. I guess there is truth in this tale of an ugly duckling that matures into a beautiful swan.

In Susan Boyle’s case, she was transformed only when she found fame; this lady who has been described as the frumpy spinster turned global singing sensation.
Still, there is a moral to this story. No women are ugly...

Only poor ones are...That's the difference!



And before I incur the wrath of feminists and everyone else for spewing juvenile gibberish – let me just say here that I am only referring to physical beauty.

By no means, is it the most important quality in a woman, but men being men – shallow creatures that we are – I guess, we are fascinated when we chance upon stunners. I am being honest here, even if it doesn’t reflect well on me!

I missed following this game, but in any case, I read in today’s papers that Liverpool did prevail over Unirea Urziceni with a 3-1 score, and in the process, eased into the last 16 of the Europa League (aggregate 4-1).

Woeful defending allowed Urziceni to draw first blood when Joao Bruno Fernandes converted Razvan Paduretu’s corner with a firm header in the 19th minute. Fortunately, the Reds drew level when Javier Mascherano dispatched a fierce 25-yard effort into the bottom-left corner (29). Then Ryan Babel completed the turnaround when he controlled and fired home a terrific second (40) before Steven Gerrard latched onto a loose ball and blasting a low shot under Giedrius Arlauskis (57).

Even with this victory and others to follow, there’s nothing to gloat about this second-rate tournament. Sigh!

There was a time when we faced Europe’s crème de la crème such as FC Barcelona, AC Milan, Internazionale, Manchester United and Real Madrid.

No, instead Rafa Benitez's boys can now look forward to entertaining the champions of Transylvania, FC Dracula (heavy sarcasm here!) and the like – names of clubs that I can’t even pronounce! Double sigh!

Friday, February 26, 2010

PM Gets Credit

Victor Reddy and Mathew Varughese (both in the foreground) are seen here practicing the ‘Haiti’ song at the HICT Auditorium.
We hope to record the song next week. I have heard this song – and it is really a hauntingly beautiful song, at least I believe so.
Malaysians love to bootlick those in power. In this case, one politician was fawning and flattering another.
Pahang Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob implied yesterday that Malaysia’s economic recovery shows that Prime Minister Najib Razak’s leadership is accepted by all. And to reinforce this message, the Star news report carried the headline “Economic recovery proof of PM’s ability” (February 26, 2010, p N4).

Malaysia Recovers

At the college, yesterday’s cash collection for the HICT for Haiti Fund was much, much better. We managed to raise RM47, bringing the grand total todate to RM750.

Headlines from the Star and The Sun roused me early yesterday morning “The worst is over” and “Out of the woods’ respectively. Newspapers have reported that Malaysia has recovered from the economic crisis.

The Prime Minister announced that the gross domestic product grew by 4.5% in the fourth quarter of last year, a better result than expected. For the whole of last year, the economy contracted by 1.7% but this was lower than the projected 3% contraction. He further expressed confidence that the economy was expected to see strong growth this year. He was very cocksure that the country will do very well!

If indeed, we are on a growth trajectory, then we should heave a big sigh of relief. If not, then Najib Razak is bluffing us – a typical politician who is intent on making us feel good when there's really nothing much to feel good about! But for now, let’s not doubt him – we have turned the corner, he insisted. Hooray!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Double Standards

Today’s collection totals RM16 and this brings the total amount to RM703. In order to increase our takings for the HICT for Haiti Fund, we must look outside of HICT since there’s only so much that we can collect from staff and students. Hmmn, it’s time to put on our thinking hat.

This is an issue that has been bugging me for some time. Why is the Syariah Court so adamant to use the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997 to cane three women when the same Act has a section on Liwat (sodomy) which was not used on Anwar Ibrahim? Isn’t this a case of double standards? I suppose, in Malaysia, this is nothing new!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I was at the Taman Indrahana Toastmasters meeting this evening, and I was the evaluator for May Yong, who was doing her last speech from the CC manual. Indeed, she has improved immensely since I first heard her speak many, many months ago. By the way, I also took part in the Table Topics session but I didn’t win this time around. It’s good that I don’t always win because then, I don’t become vainglorious. Winning or losing is a step forward in my learning process.

Today the HICT for Haiti Fund collected RM34, and this brings our total cash to a grand total of RM687. And the other interesting development is that Victor Reddy has composed an ori song for this "HELP for Haiti" cause, and I am writing the lyrics. I believe it is a meaningful song and I just can't wait to listen to it!

It’s noteworthy to read in The Malaysian Insider today that according to Najib Razak, Sarawak BN is unchallengeable. He explained that voters in Sarawak have their own yardsticks in choosing who to vote. He emphasized that the results of the 2008 general election would not influence sentiments or support of voters to Sarawak BN component parties because people in the state were concerned more on local issues than national issues when choosing their candidates. And of course he is referring to rural development. 95% of Sarawak will be connected with electricity supply and 90% of the state’s households will enjoy treated water by 2012. And here lies the irony. If indeed Sarawak voters are more concerned with local issues – then they should rightfully be furious and fuming at this state of affairs because it has taken the government so long to bring electricity and treated water to rural Sarawak. I know what I am talking about since I spent 3 years in Sarawak (1987-89), and having been to rural towns such as Sarikei, Lubok Antu, Tebedu, Bau, Lundu, Engkilili, Bintangor, Simunjan and others, I do know what life is really like without the conveniences that we in KL take for granted. Therefore, if I am a Sarawakian, I would have felt very short-changed.

Monday, February 22, 2010

12 Roses at Bangsar

Today, the KL Advanced Toastmasters Club met at a new venue – in Bangsar to be precise. I was the Grammarian as well as guiding newbie Nurul when she took on the Ah Counter role. I participated in the Table Topics session, and predictably, I took the Best Table Topics Speaker award with my impromptu speech on “12 roses”. I also received permission from the Toastmaster-of-the-Evening to solicit for funds for the HICT for Haiti Fund, and I am grateful to be able to collect RM100 from club members and also RM6 from a guest Toastmaster from the Bangsar Toastmasters Club. My thanks to fellow members who have made cash contributions this evening.

And of course, talking about this Fund, we collected another RM115 at the college today. So the grand total aggregated so far is RM653, including the RM106 received from Toastmasters today.

By chance, I read in The Sun today that on February 04, 2010, Martin Walker of US-based AT Kearney’s Global Business Council had suggested in the Bangkok Post that the recovery from the 2008-2009 global economic crisis wasn’t due to the vigor of the BRIC economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, but to a group of countries which he labeled The Ten. With remarkable speed, these 10 middle-income emergent economies – comprising Mexico, South Korea, Turkey, Poland, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Iran, Argentina, and Thailand – are becoming a new motor for the global economy, Walker wrote (p 14). What is most alarming is that Malaysia is not in this list! Our two neighbors – Indonesia and Thailand – are in this grouping, and this only serves to underscore the fact that for foreign analysts, Malaysia is already off their radar screen. Malaysia is no longer competitive! I remember those cruises that used to depart and return to Port Klang without a port of call (known locally as “cruises to nowhere"). Yeah, Malaysia is in that kind of limbo – we are in motion, but we are heading nowhere! Now that's sad!

Liverpool and Manchester City played out a tedious stalemate as both sides failed to stake their claim on fourth place in the EPL. A disappointing result for the Reds – more so because Tottenham and Aston Villa won their respective matches. Sigh!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lady Gaga's Wacky Wardrobe 2

Fun, funky, sparkly, 80s and always over the top! Lady Gaga pushes the envelope in her fashion choices, always taking risks and it works. Anyway, no matter what you think of her in these clothes or even her as an artist, at least we know she gives us a show. To me, at least, the one factor that makes Lady Gaga special is the fact that she seems to morph into something new each time she makes an appearance!

Photos from, accessed February 21, 2010.

Plus Size Models

Ever wondered what models would look like if they actually ate?

Fashion lovers got a glimpse at an alternate universe on February 20, 2010 as Canadian designer, Mark Fast sent ‘plus size’ models down the runway at London Fashion Week.

While noticeably larger than the average catwalk model, the women were by no means, overweight. Instead the models were a size 14 or 16, a healthy dress for their above average height.

Figure hugging: Fast’s designs cling to the body, displaying the model’s curves. Photos from UK’s Mail Online, February 21, 2010.

Caning Photos

Journalists interview three women who were caned for having sex out of wedlock. They are the first to be caned under the country’s Islamic laws. Photo from UK's Mail Online, February 20, 2010.

Malaysian justice: Prison staff demonstrate to the media how the caning process was done at the Kajang Prison outside KL. Photo from UK's Mail Online, February 20, 2010.

Last word on the caning of Malaysian women. I would like to quote Fakihah Azahari from the Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association: “Whether one agrees or disagrees with the Syariah High Court decisions, one issue is manifest. The decision of the women in question to submit themselves exclusively to the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court shall have to be respected…” (New Sunday Times, February 21, 2010, p 4).

And as reported by Agence France-Presse, (Webpage, Amnesty International on Wednesday (i.e. February 17, 2010) urged Malaysia to end a caning "epidemic," saying that authorities have meted out the punishment to thousands of men in addition to the high-profile case of three women.

Amnesty International had said the case was "just the tip of the iceberg" and that Malaysia often caned men for routine offenses. Citing Malaysian authorities, the London-based human rights group said authorities caned more than 35,000 people – mostly non-Malaysians – for immigration violations since 2002.

"These thousands of cases point to an epidemic of caning in Malaysia," said Donna Guest, the group's deputy Asia-Pacific director.

In the SPL, Celtic moved to within seven points of Rangers at the top of the table with a one-sided win over Dundee United. Robbie Keane struck a fine solo effort in the 20th minute for his first goal at Celtic Park. In fact, the home side had many chances to win big, but keeper Dusan Pernis was superb in the United goal.

And in the EPL, Arsenal are just two points behind Man U after a 2-0 win against Sunderland. The Gunners made the breakthrough when Nicklas Bendtner tapped-in Emmanuel Eboue’s low cross (27), and then Cesc Fabregas stroked home a penalty after the Spaniard was bundled over by Sunderland’s Fraser Campbell (90+3).

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Plenty of News

The New Straits Times today screamed this headline on its front page today: “Teoh not strangled”. Whatever the reason(s), the Teoh Beng Hock court process merited front-page ballyhoo. Well, at least, it did catch my attention, and I can follow this case – since I had forgotten about it! Anyway, in yesterday’s testimony, Government pathologist Dr Shahidan Md Noor had disputed Thai forensic pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand's claims of homicide in Teoh's death. Dr Shahidan, from the Sungai Buloh Hospital, said his findings from the (second) autopsy (which was done on November 22, 2009) concluded that Teoh's death was caused by a fall from a high place with the injuries sustained consistent with the result of a fall. The inquest has been postponed to March 01 – the report didn’t say why – at which time Dr Shahidan would be cross-examined.

So, this case has taken another interesting twist. Dr Shahidan was initially contacted by the Selangor Menteri Besar's office and Teoh's family lawyer to conduct the autopsy but had declined. But he relented when he was instructed to do so by the Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohd Abazafree Mohd Abbas. Ah huh...

To be sure, today, there’s plenty of other interesting news, and among them:

On the caning issue, Michelle Gunaselan penned an excellent piece (Webpage, posted today in The Malaysian Insider) when she wrote: “On a very superficial level, I suppose the recent caning of the three women by prison authorities shouldn’t bother me. After all, I am not a Muslim woman in Malaysia and if I should choose to drink beer or participate in illicit sex, I would get away with it cane-free. However, as a citizen, the sentence and the stealthy way in which the punishment was handed out disturbs me greatly.

The most apparent issue I have with the caning thus far has to be the issue of class, or rather the issue of a class divide. Despite the government’s stance that this isn’t really a big deal, I take a different view because the caning of these young women brings forth implications for Malaysian society as a whole, and it would be wise for us to look at them closely. I’ll explain.

The disparity in the enforcement process has put in place a type of insidious moral policing that is state sanctioned, and its main cost being women and men who are already disenfranchised by the system. Coming from lower to middle income backgrounds, these are men and women who have to resort to budget hotels for some semblance of privacy; most often the same places are that often the targets of khalwat raids. Glitzy KL hotels and watering holes are hardly the sort of places you would find the local religious authorities at. The large number of high profile cases like these and Kartika’s – they are merely small fish to fry in the larger scale of things. They are being made examples of for the rest of the population, which essentially sends a message that the state encourages a class-based approach in religious enforcement.

From this alone, it is possible to infer that if you are not in the right income bracket, you can expect to be punished for your sins. If you have money though, and possible able to afford better hotels and party in better places, you will somehow escape unscathed. Besides a few of the Malay Muslim celebrities caught once in awhile, does this then mean our politicians and the elite of Malaysian society are all clean and thoroughly virtuous? Does usury, corruption, violence against women, and the crime of not supporting your household once you divorce your wife or take on a new wife, then not matter?”

Great stuff, but I am not going to reproduce the whole article – but I strongly urge you to read it!

The Star today also talked about Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng claiming that Bayan Baru MP Zahrain Mohd Hashim could have ruined Penang’s “perfect record” in stamping out corruption. Lim claimed that if the state had gone ahead and approved Zahrain’s request to award a Bukit Jambul Country Club tender to a RM2 private company, it would have become a case for the MACC (p N10). So, where is Zahrain's lawsuit against Lim?

And today’s Malay Mail Online revealed the news that Malaysia's first submarine KD Tunku Abdul Rahman (KD TAR) which was reported to have a mechanical fault, has been completely repaired and is expected to go under water on February 22, Okay lah, we shall see if the submarine is really a submarine.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Nine Days Later

Hishammuddin Hussein’s shoes must be getting too big for him. He is thinking that as Home Minister, he is so commanding, that he can just treat his fellow citizens with disdain. That's why he must be thinking that this issue of the caning of the three women a very petty matter because he only bothered to inform Malaysians about it nine days after the women were punished. He had also insinuated that it was “all systems go” for beer-drinking Kartika to be caned. He's got balls because he doesn't give a shit about anybody!

And The Nut Graph’s Shanon Shah in his article “The Islamic state we deserve?” (Webpage, posted today), intimated that if Hishammuddin's brazen brashness continues, Malaysian citizens can expect to be governed by the following rules:

1. People can and will be punished secretly; the government can choose to inform citizens later when it pleases.

2. Muslims can expect their private lives and personal morals to be subjected to endless scrutiny from now on. Non-Muslims need not worry. Yet.

3. A particular interpretation of Islamic laws is increasingly part of Malaysia’s political terrain. If citizens question why this is so, then they “misunderstand” and want to “play up” the issue.
Now isn’t all of this deeply disturbing?

On a happy note, the HICT for Haiti Fund became RM100 richer this evening when an unidentified donor made a contribution. Actually, we know who she is but she wanted anonymity. Anyway, we thank her for her generosity. The Fund has now collected a total of RM432.

More Photos of Haiti

I located more photos of the Haitian tragedy – and so I am still putting them together, in order that all may view them and remember the pain and suffering endured by Haiti’s population. Today’s cash collection for the HICT for Haiti Fund totaled RM18. And the total amount collected todate is RM332.

I read that Liverpool had a disappointing game against the Romanian side, Unirea Urziceni in the Europa League competition – even though they managed to scrape through with a slender 1-0 win. Liverpool may have dominated possession but Urziceni played a very tight defensive game – and it looked like a draw until Daniel Pacheco knocked down Ryan Babel’s cross and David Ngog headed in from close range (81).

We Cane Women in Malaysia

Today’s and yesterday’s The Sun headlined front-page news about Malaysian Muslim women being caned! Wow, this is happening in Bolehland, supposedly a moderate and even progressive Muslim country. Already in the news for quite some time is Malaysian Muslim model, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, who faces a syariah-prescribed caning for the crime of drinking a beer. And all this while, people were upset about this particular case – when, in reality, the authorities had already imposed hush-hush caning on three hapless women.

We only came to know when our keris-waving Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein disclosed on Wednesday (i.e. February 17) that three Muslim women have been caned for syariah offences at the Kajang Prison on February 09! He was also quoted to have said “Based on the interview with the three women offenders, it was found that they accepted the punishment with an open heart, had a realization and repented for their offences. Although the caning did not result in any wound on their bodies, they admitted it had a deep impact on them. They hope other women would refrain from doing things which are against Islam” (The Sun, February 18, 2010, p 1). This reminds me of my schooldays when I was caned. I may have accepted it (no choice wad!) but I don’t think I have repented! In fact, I think it made me more rebellious! So what is he talking about? Balderdash. Crock. Flummery.

Still, many Malaysians would feel a sense of deep shock at this revelation – hence today’s headline in The Sun “Outcry over caning”. But why should they? We are a Muslim country, no matter what everyone else says. In August 2007, at a conference on the role of Islamic states in a globalized world, Najib Razak himself had declared that Malaysia has "never been secular because being secular by Western definition means separation of the Islamic principles of in the way we govern the country." Najib said Malaysia did not want to be stereotyped with the Western definitions of a secular and a non-secular state, but rather, would apply the fundamentals of Islam to its governance, even as it protected the rights of those with other religions (Webpage, accessed February 19, 2010).

But NGOs and others are up in arms over this caning issue because they question why Muslim women were whipped in ‘secrecy’? As Sisters in Islam (SIS) executive director Dr. Hamidah Marican said in a statement that the punishment meted out for illicit sex under syariah law violates human rights while discriminating against Muslim women in Malaysia. “Whipping of women under Syariah Criminal Offences legislation contradicts civil law where women are not punishable by caning under Section 2898 of the Criminal Procedure Code”, she highlighted. “To do this surreptitiously implies that the government wanted to hide this degrading and unjust treatment from public scrutiny” (The Sun, February 19, 2010, p 1).

And the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) said the existence of a plural legal system in Malaysia has led to different standards of justice for the citizens. JAG spokeswoman Maria Chin Abdullah said constitutional guarantees of equality and non-discrimination are not extended to Muslim women due to the conservative understanding of Islam. “It is, therefore, of utmost urgency that the authorities review the contradictory laws that exist in our country,” she had said (ibid, p 2).

Another news source, The Malaysian Insider (Webpage, posted today) meanwhile reported that the Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association (PPMM) rebuked parties questioning the syariah caning on the three women because it demonstrated they did not understand the dual legal system practiced in the country. PPMM president Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar regretted the media statements issued by these NGOs, saying: “It must be stressed again that the syariah caning is different from the civil caning. The syariah caning does not cause injury to the offender compared with the civil caning which leaves a scar”. I find this amusing. If the caning does not cause injury nor leave a scar – it means, the caning doesn’t hurt, right? Today’s Star also revealed one of the women who was caned as saying “the caning was not painful” (p N25). And if this is so, what’s the point of caning? I have said that I am not new to caning – it bites and it stings and it smarts. But if anything, I didn’t feel remorse. No, I wasn’t sorry one bit! And a slap on the wrist – if this syariah caning is what it is described to be – is not gonna change anything, will it?

So what’s the point in all of this? Nothing really, except Malaysia Boleh! Duh!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

On the Brink of Extinction

Today, I am proud to salute bighearted HICT Toastmasters Club for magnanimously donating a lump sum of RM130 to the HICT for Haiti Fund – all their members made contributions. In the photo, Club President, Mathew Varughese is seen handing over the cash to Arun Kannan and Victor Ong, representing the HICT for Haiti Fund. See how big the smile is on the giver’s face. And see how bigger the smiles are on the receivers’ faces! Methinks, receiving is so much better, kan? Ask any person who’s received an angpow during CNY! And the individual donations come to RM25. So today’s collection is the best yet with a total of RM155. And the todate amount is now RM314.

I was browsing through The Independent, and this headline caught my attention: “On the brink of extinction, 25 of our closest relatives!” Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor wrote yesterday about this group of prominent zoologists revealing to us the 25 most endangered members of the primates – the biological order which contains monkeys, tarsiers, lemurs (the photo shows a blue-eyed black lemur), gibbons and the great apes, including, of course, humans.

Of course, we don’t have to worry about humankind – we are populating this earth very efficiently. He had written: “We may be doing fine, at least in terms of numbers: at 7pm on Wednesday, the human population of the world had reached 6,803,362,494. It hit 6 billion in 1999 and will hit 7 billion possibly as soon as next year. But our primate cousins are in a very different position”.

According to Dr Russell Mittermeier, chairman of the Primate Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), “The purpose of our Top 25 list is to highlight those that are most at risk, to attract the attention of the public, to stimulate national governments to do more, and especially to find the resources to implement desperately needed conservation measures".

And guess what? There are just over 630 species in total, and incredible as it may seem, more than 300 are now threatened with extinction, from developments such as the destruction of tropical forests, the illegal wildlife trade and commercial hunting for bushmeat. Humans make life blatantly challenging for other inhabitants!

The Essence of Democracy

In today’s Star, Azmi Sharom in his “Brave New World” piece reasoned that the “road to political change” in Malaysia can be achieved simply by having a two-party system. “It won’t be a magic bullet, just to change our government with another, but it would be the start for real change to occur”, he wrote (p N28). For those who cannot support PR – perhaps this is a convincing reason why you shouldn’t still vote for BN either! We need to see democracy thrive! We can actually have an alternative government. Didn’t Anna Garlin Spencer said, “The essence of democracy is its assurance that every human being should so respect himself and should be so respected in his own personality that he should have opportunity equal to that of every other human being to show what he was meant to become”. BN had more than 50 years to actualize this and it didn't do well at all – I believe we should now demand the second option.

In yesterday’s Champions League last-16 first-leg tie between Arsenal and Porto – the former succumbed to a 1-2 loss – not because the latter were playing great football – but because the Gunners, specifically their goalkeeper singlehandedly contributed to the two goals against his own team. An own goal by rookie keeper Lukasz Fabianski (Manuel Almunia is injured, that’s why) gave Porto the lead on 11 minutes when he spilled Silvestre Varela's cross. The Gunners cancelled out with a Sol Campbell header from six yards after Tomas Rosicky had nodded back Thomas Vermaelen’s flick from an inswinging Cesc Fabregas corner (18). But Porto won the match when Falcao poked in a Ruben Micael free-kick after Fabianski had incredulously picked up a back-pass from Campbell inside the box (52). What I mean, is that the goalmouth was unguarded. Fabianski, can you blame me if I sometimes wonder whose side are you on?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Zahrain: Gutless or Gutsy?

Today, I'm back to work – but many are still on CNY leave. And so, to be honest, we didn’t expect a good collection for the HICT for Haiti Fund – in fact, we managed to amass only RM10. Still it is someone’s act of generosity, and therefore, we should be grateful. Our grand total of collections todate amounted to RM159. No doubt, this is a paltry amount. But we’ve only just begun…

The Malay Mail (Webpage reported today that Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng is ready to face legal action for implicating family members of Zahrain Mohamed Hashim in the RM40 million tender to manage Bukit Jambul Golf Resort. Lim had said Zahrain was unhappy for losing the tender put in by a company the latter had supported that was formed two months before tender was called in Sept 2008.

"It is up to Zahrain to sue or not. We have enough proof and are willing to take the risk for the sake of a clean government," Lim said when commenting Zahrain's legal threat for implicating his family members in the tender. Lim said their ties soured after the said company failed in the tender bid.

Let’s wait and see if combative Zahrain has the gall to sue Lim. Then, we will know the truth!

The Role of Stakeholder Management

I wasn’t surprised at all to read in The Sun this morning and which matter-of-factly announced: “PKA passes the buck” in its headline – the news was referring to the Port Klang Authority (PKA) purportedly “refusing to decide on the fate of its former directors who have been accused of dereliction of their fiduciary duties when they previously served on its board” (p 1). According to this same report, “at a special board meeting on February 11, the board decided that any decision should be made by the Super Task Force headed by the Chief Secretary to the government, Mohd Sidek Hassan”. What this means is that it shows a lack of any commitment whatsoever by the present board to get to the bottom of the failed PKFZ project and sends signals that it is not really interested in holding the previous directors responsible for its current state of affairs.

In my Strategic Management class, I recently gave a lesson on “The Role of Stakeholder Management” where my students learned that the BoD has a broad scope of responsibility that requires its members to be held accountable for the entire performance of the firm. In fact, I even quoted the example of WorldCom, Tyco, and Enron bankruptcies and scandals, where the firms’ boards of directors were sued by shareholders for mismanaging their interests. It is already clear that the Companies’ Act requires board members to act as “ordinary men of business” and “make decisions as a man of business would make in the course of business”.

But here we are witnessing this blatant act of passing the buck – the decision shows that PKA, despite being corporatized, remains a typical government department where civil servants (who are the PKA board directors) protects another (i.e. senior civil servants who were their predecessors on the PKA board). One cannot simply ignore the fact that as members of the current board, they too owe fiduciary duties to the shareholders, in this case the government and the people, in taking action against these former members.

Whether Mohd Sidek takes action is a separate issue – and I have no wish to speculate. The fact is that PKA chairman Lee Hwa Beng (left) is shirking his responsibility, and to the public, this will be seen as a case of avoiding making painful decisions or worse, attempting to protect individuals. All this talk of governance is a load of bull! And what accountability?

And as I read further, I became very disturbed with the headline on page 10: “Righting wrongs is almost Mission Impossible” when Citizen Nades himself admitted that “over the past 6 years, The Sun’s investigative team has exposed no fewer than 237 wrong-doings of people in public office or who have misused taxpayers’ funds” and yet the number of people prosecuted have been disagreeably dismal. You can count them on the fingers of just one hand.

And to remind ourselves that the excesses in Bolehland seem to be neverending – tales of greed and corruption continue to hog the limelight, and some people stupidly wonder why Malaysia received the worst ranking and score in 15 years in Transparency International’s corruption perception index for 2009. (In this ranking, Malaysia plunged nine places from 47th CPI ranking in 2008 to 56th position in 2009) – R Nadeswaran in his article gave us the example of the Paya Indah Wetlands where millions of ringgit in taxpayers’ money had disappeared. As he wrote: ‘We are aware that the norms of business dealings were not observed when there was only one signatory to the cheques. We know that agreements were not honored and that contractors have been left high and dry”. And as he very rightly pointed out: “It is not for us to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of this wrongdoing. Shouldn’t the authorities who have been charged with safeguarding public money be going after the crooks?” So who are the authorities? The Royal Malaysian Police. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. Do they actually know their jobs? Do they bother at all? Do they care? Sadly, this is the state of Malaysia today.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Petronas CNY TV Commercials

We are still celebrating Chinese New Year, and so I thought it would be nice if I upload a collection of some of those Petronas CNY commercials onto my blog – they are memorable because they give us insights into CNY traditions that we should hold dear to, and values that we should cherish and prize.

“There is no value in life except what you choose to place upon it and no happiness in any place except what you bring to it yourself”, Henri David Thoreau (1817-1862) once said, and he's right, y'know! Very meaningful. Very appropriate.

Banned Words

The Malaysian Insider (Webpage, posted February 15, 2010) is in fact, telling us how backward we really are. That’s right – only in Malaysia, can we find movies and books and even words that are banned!
Did you know that in Selangor, non-Muslims are barred from using 25 words either orally or in writing according to the Non-Islamic Religion Enactment 1988 (Control of Propagations Among Muslims)? Among the words are Allah, Firman Allah (Allah’s decree), solat (daily prayers), Rasul (prophet), mubaligh (missionary), mufti, iman (faith), Kaabah (the Holy cubicle), Qiblat (direction in which the Muslims pray), and Haji (Muslims who have done his pilgrimage),

Selangor has also banned non-Muslims from using 10 other terms such as subhanallah, insya-Allah, astaghfirullahlah, masya-Allah and Allahuakbar orally or in writing. Those found guilty of using such terms can be fined up to RM3,000 or jailed for up to two years, or both. It’s a good thing that we are so lacking in enforcement – otherwise, many non-Muslims might end up in the slammer!

Similar enactments are found in nine other states but not used in Sabah, Sarawak, Penang and the Federal Territory. Malacca, which does not have a sultan, has banned more words and phrases than most states.

Influential cleric Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has come out to ask all states to review their Islamic enactments that bar non-Muslims from using terms and words such as ‘Allah’, saying laws should be updated from time to time. It's good for him to realize that we’re living in the twenty-first century but even his simple suggestion is bound to be met with unyielding resistance from many quarters. Obviously, there are people out there who are very, very insecure...

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Penang Froggy

Speculation had been rife that PKR’s Zahrain Mohamed Hashim (left) would leave the party after almost two weeks of trenchant tirade against Lim Guan Eng, Chief Minister of Penang, lambasting the latter as "a chauvinist, extremist, dictator, and communist-minded". These are very strong words indeed. 

So, when Zahrain did finally announce his abandonment of the PR cause in Penang, no one was at all surprised. He was not alone when he launched a scathing and vitriolic attack against Lim and we can speculate there may be others who will also be hopping about in the same 'independent' direction. 

But what I don't like is that his action amounts to a betrayal of the voters' trust when they elected him Ahli Parlimen Bayan Baru unless of course, he quits his parliamentary seat and gets himself re-elected. I don't think he will dare do this after all, he was once an UMNO warlord who became a turncoat people like him go where the opportunities are after all they are mercenaries unscrupulous and unprincipled.  

Actually, Zahrain's descriptions of Lim are not exactly original.  But of course, I forget, he is but a politician. Most politicians repeat mindlessly and without thinking. 

Patrick Teoh’s “Niamah” blog posting on February 12 had claimed that Zahrain invoked God’s name when he declared he was quitting. Wah, so daring wan! I don’t know about other people, but to me – it is very wrong to use God’s name in vain. 

And so, I searched for his original pronouncement – which of course was in Bahasa Melayu – and these are: “Oleh itu, dengan lafaz Bismillah hirrohmanirrohim, saya dengan penuh ikhlas mengumumkan peletakan semua jawatan dalam parti dan keluar daripada Parti Keadilan Rakyat berkuatkuasa serta merta”. Now this kind of cocky imperiousness shows just how cavalier and contemptuous Zahrain is as a person (although I know there are those who will refer him as a frog!) – not only to his constituents, but worse, he adopts the same flippant attitude to God! 

Well, he’d better exercise care when he goes out and about – who knows, if God gets mighty angry, He might just be tempted to zap him with a lightning bolt and reduce Zahrain to a tiny, inconsequential heap of ashes! 

Note: We are not going to see any monies being collected for the HICT for Haiti Fund today and tomorrow, given that we are still on holiday, but I would hope that when we return to work on Wednesday, there will be people queuing to donate to this Fund. The Haitians need our help, folks!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Lunar New Year Traditions

I am reflecting on what Chinese New Year means to those of us who are celebrating this occasion in Malaysia. And I am realizing that as each year passes, traditions are dying. Celebrating the New Year is a psychological opportunity for us to let go off the past and start anew. But it would be nice if we can still keep the traditions that have so enriched us in the past – after all, they are cultural symbolisms that define who we are.
These photos show the Lunar New Year (we Malaysians call it CNY!) being celebrated in China; photos that permit us to recall and reminisce of days that have gone by or will soon pass us by:

All photos from Google Images