Monday, January 31, 2011

Rosmah in the News

Star, Malaysia, January 28, 2011

Star, Malaysia, January 26, 2011

Star, Malaysia, January 18, 2011

Star, Malaysia, January 17, 2011, p N29

Star, Malaysia, January 12, 2011, p N30

Star, Malaysia, January 11, 2011, p N24

It has been a busy month for the Prime Minister’s wife, Rosmah Mansor – who enjoys basking in the limelight for 48% of the time in this whole month of January 2011. This webpage (as well as checking out just the Star newspaper) clearly lists all the news articles that feature the pretentious Rosmah:
Anifah: Rosmah a smart woman – JAN 30
Serve people well, Rosmah tell NGOs – JAN 28
Rosmah: Many Islamic nations look up to Malaysia – JAN 26
Invitation for PM to visit Dhaka – JAN 21
Rosmah’s advice to developing countries – JAN 20
Don’t forget to come home, says Rosmah – JAN 19
Rosmah discusses social development issues – JAN 18
Rosmah in Oman for four-day visit – JAN 17 (p N29)
Rosmah gers ‘Datuk Amar’ award – JAN 17
Rosmah’s Oman visit set to boost bilateral ties – JAN 16
Early childhood education getting right attention – JAN 12 (p N30)
Rosmah gets courtesy call from Prince Faisal – JAN 11 (p N24)
'Teacher competency vital' – JAN 10 (p N24)
Fisherman’s poor health gets Rosmah’s attention – JAN 09
Rosmah for visits to Riyadh, Oman and Dhaka – JAN 08

MCA-owned Star sure loves to suck up to Rosmah, who, by the way is the ubiquitous publicity hound. Whenever I turn the pages of this superficial newspaper, I cannot help but notice her! And immediately, I feel queasy. Maybe I am being unfair. Maybe, she is really a genuine person; self-seeking Najib is the one using her as a political gimmick. Actually, both husband and wife sicken me to the stomach. Groan. Nausea. Vomit.

Malaysian Navy Commandos Strike

I was just reading about Johnny Depp and his engaging movie role as the suave Captain Jack Sparrow when I was reminded of the daring exploits of Malaysian and South Korean Navy commandos on January 20, 2011. The former came to the rescue of Malaysian-flagged MISC-owned tanker MT Bunga Laurel and rescuing the 23 crew members from Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden – a waterway sandwiched between Somalia and Yemen and is the main sea route between Europe and Asia where vessels ply the Suez Canal. Seven pirates were successfully apprehended.

Somalia’s dysfunctional government has contributed to this state of lawlessness. Piracy in the Gulf of Aden now presents a very worrying threat to global commerce, escalating to an almost ungovernable point. But before we are tempted to shoot them on sight, let’s examine this profitable activity from a purely business perspective!

I contend that Somali buccaneers are entrepreneurs. Where earlier sea bandits were satisfied to make off with a dinghy full of booty, pirates who prowl northeast Africa's Gulf of Aden hold captured ships for ransom. This strategy has been fabulously successful because the payoff is lucrative, and the number of pirate attacks has skyrocketed.

Scott Carney writing in Wired Magazine dated July 13, 2009 offered an interesting read of his economic analysis of the Somali pirate business model. Like any business, Somali piracy can be explained in purely economic terms. It prospers by manipulating the incentives that drive international maritime trade. The other parties involved – shippers, insurers, private security contractors, and national navies – stand to gain more (or at least lose less) by tolerating it than by putting up a serious fight. As for the pirates, their escalating demands are a method of price discovery, a way of gauging how much the market will bear.

The risk-and-reward calculations for these players arise at key points of tension: at the outset of a shipment, when a vessel comes under attack, during ransom negotiations, and when a deal is struck. As long as national navies don't roll in with guns blazing, the region's peculiar economics ensure that most everyone gets a cut.

Don’t forget that an ordinary Somali earns about $600 a year, but even the lowliest freebooter can make nearly 17 times that – $10,000 – in a single hijacking. Never mind the risk; it's still very much less dangerous than living in war-torn Mogadishu (Webpage

But this situation cannot go on. Already, some countries are taking a hard-line approach to combating this menace since other powers seemed to take the Somali piracy issue lightly. The European Union’s naval force refuses to raid hijacked ships out of concern for the safety of hostages, but frustration is steadily rising and paralysis is quickly setting in. Just patrolling the waters will not deter Somali pirates and they have been relentless. For how long will these countries allow themselves to be coerced and their ships hijacked and their crew ransomed? This will only entice even more Somalis and perhaps others to move into this money-making line of work! Indeed, Malaysia has sent a strong message to these pirates.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

No Surprise

BN has retained the Tenang state seat with an increased majority of 3,707 votes. The turnout was 67% or 9,833 voters. Well, no surprise here.

Arsenal eased into the FA Cup fifth round as the Gunners narrowly saw off League One Huddersfield with a 2-1 score. The Gunners led when Terrier Peter Clarke diverted Nicklas Bendtner's strike into his own net (22), before Sebastien Squillaci was sent off for a block on Terrier Jack Hunt. The red card changed the game and Alan Lee headed the Terriers level (66). Fortunately for 10-man Arsenal, Cesc Fabregas slotted home from the penalty spot (86) after Bendtner had been fouled by Jamie McCombe.

Labis Flooded

It was raining heavily as Tenang constituents cast their ballots. Almost all of Labis town was flooded in the afternoon and boats and heavy duty vehicles were used to ferry voters to polling centers. By the way, Star’s Joceline Tan writing in Sunday Star pronounced that this by-election has been “a lopsided race from the start” (p N10, lines 18-19), i.e. BN will win hands down. Muhyiddin himself has set the target to win by a 5,000 vote majority.

On Saturday, students again demonstrated in England. In central London, thousands staged a noisy protest march through Whitehall and Westminster. And in Manchester, a rally against higher tuition fees and spending cuts and job losses brought together students and trade unionists – angry protestors accusing the government of "betraying" young people.

Celtic steamrollered into the League Cup final with a 4-1 whipping of Aberdeen. Kris Commons contributed the first goal with a chipped shot from 18 yards (6) and goals numbers two and three came from headers from Charlie Mulgrew (10) and Thomas Rogne (21). The fourth came when Aberdeen’s Derek Young raised a hand high above his head to clear a Gary Hooper free-kick that was curling above the defensive wall and Anthony Stokes sent goalkeeper Jamie Langfield the wrong way from the penalty spot (34). The Dons did get one back after 61 minutes, with a Scott Vernon header.

BN Sure to Win

Now the family of A Kugan wants a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to probe the case of his death in police custody. As lawyer R Sivarasa explained the families of those who died in police custody required closure and justice against those who committed the crime (Star, January 29, 2011, p N23).

Star columnist Baradan Kuppusamy (January 29, 2011, p N36) remained smug and smarty as he shamelessly insulted his own Indian community. He wrote that “with the price of essentials rising and wages not keeping up, Indian voters are in no mood for political adventures…” He was saying that in spite of this, the Indians will still vote for BN, and implying that Indians are easily manipulated. Unlike the Chinese who are more independent-minded. Baradan is still a loudmouthed phony!

And New Straits Times columnist Azmi Anshar had brashly boasted the majority of Tenang voters as staunchly pro-UMNO.(January 29, 2011, p 5, lines 51-52). So the mainstream press are already writing off PR’s chances! The Malaysian Insider yesterday reported that one poll even predicted that BN can win Tenang by 3,000 votes. So this will be a very predictable by-election that will have a very predictable outcome.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

School Marketing Committee

The Sunway School of Business has initiated a School Marketing Committee today that will look into marketing and branding strategies and activities. The maiden meeting was a brainstorming session involving Dr. Foo, Dr. Choy, Dr. Cheah, Madeline and I. We felt that it is timely that we took ownership of marketing the School of Business ourselves because who knows us better than we ourselves? It is heartening to note that this is being set in motion because after all, we are subject experts in Marketing. Yes indeed, I know my stuff. So too the others.

The well-read Malaysia Today (Webpage, posted yesterday) drew attention to an unidentified MIC member giving an arresting perspective to the Interlok controversy. He alleged that the real issue within Interlok was not the word “pariah” but the “idea and nuances” perpetuated by the book’s content.

“The whole ‘pariah’ word issue is simply a distraction. If you read the book, you will understand that the book aims to stress the fact that Chinese and Indians came to this country as immigrants searching for a life which was better that their homeland. “Life was hard for them back home. In contrast, Malaya was paradise. So don’t question Malay rights and privileges. “Interlok simply wants the Chinese and Indians to accept their lot and be thankful to the Malays,” he said.

This is one smart Indian!

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Teoh and Kugan Story Continues

Taman Indrahana Toastmasters who filled up two tables had their Lunar New Year dinner yesterday at the Sum You Restaurant in Petaling Jaya. Of course, there was yee sang (i.e. raw fish salad), fortune cookies (My message was intriguing: “You have an active mind and a keen imagination”), overflowing red wine and an 8-course meal to ensure that for a change, we talk less! Good fellowship was abundant and aplenty.

In a statement yesterday, Teoh Beng Hock’s sister Lee Lan insisted that as her brother died in the custody of the MACC, “personnel within the government agency should take responsibility for his death” – unless of course the inquest verdict is overturned and we are told that Teoh voluntarily jumped to his death.

And today, the Sessions Court found police constable V Navindran not guilty of causing grievous hurt to A Kugan when the latter was detained by police on suspicion of having being involved in car thefts and who subsequently died in the USJ police lock-up on January 20, 2009. In making his decision, Judge Aslam Zainuddin said the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against the police constable.

The death was initially classified as sudden death and attributed to water in his lungs according, to an initial post-mortem report. However, the case was reclassified as murder following public outcry.

A second post-mortem was conducted at the insistence of his family, and pictures from it released online indicated Kugan had suffered severe injuries on his body. This supported widespread belief that he was tortured while in police custody.

The reluctance on the part of the police to allow a second post-mortem and the significant differences in the two reports, including descriptions of the extent of injuries and the actual cause of death, has also raised accusations of an attempted cover-up. Following Kugan’s death, eleven rank and file police officers were transferred to desk duty at the Selangor police headquarters. But only one individual V Navindran was charged and of course, acquitted.

So, am I to believe that Kugan beat himself up and got himself so badly injured to the point that he died by his own hands? This suspect was obviously so very dangerous even to himself!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Tiger Mother

Amy Chua's memoir The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, which advocates a strict Chinese parenting style, saw furious artillery fire from those who disagree with her. So should a parent crack the whip or molly coddle to produce a successful, happy child?

An extract in the Wall Street Journal lists the things Amy Chua's daughters Sophia and Louisa were not allowed to do, including attending a sleepover; having a play-date; being in a school play; watching TV or playing a computer game; choosing their own extracurricular activities; getting any grade less than an A; not being the number one student in every subject except gym and drama; playing any instrument except piano and violin; not playing the piano or violin.

If this is something that reflects her personal choice, so be it. But when she publicly makes it known that this is the typical reason why Chinese parents like herself raise successful children, then disapproval sets in. This is stereotyping. And it leads to many people making unrealistic and even exaggerated assumptions about the Chinese. A statement like “Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you're good at it” is really over-the-top, and I am confident many Chinese Malaysians do not share this sentiment. And yet, their kids still do well.

It’s great to learn about other people’s cultural practices. But it is equally important to be wary of situations where we blindly adopt what others do, just so that we can reproduce the simplistic outcomes that were pompously highlighted. It is noteworthy to mention that cultural awareness begins by understanding yourself, then learning to understand others.

Amy is in the spotlight because she has this superiority complex about herself, and she needs to tell the whole world about it. Okay, she is a Yale law professor – so what? At the end of the day, her views on motherhood is just that – her personal opinion.

Photo credit:
Amy Chua should stop preaching. Chinese mothers are certainly not any more superior than other mothers. Full stop. Beijing-based IP/IT lawyer and law professor, Stan Abrams (Webpage, posted January 10, 2011) concluded that Amy is really an insufferable elitist and not a model Chinese parent as she wants the world to believe. He even quantified her misplaced beliefs as 90% crap! I cannot agree with you more, Stan!

Islamic State Bogey

In the Tenang by-election campaign, PAS and the DAP have been forced to be on a defensive mode as MCA’s Chua Soi Lek warned Tenang voters against voting for PAS, saying that it would only further strengthen the party in PR and pave the way for the formation of an Islamic state. I don’t think Chinese voters are easily fooled by Chua’s Islamic state bogey. BN’s election tactics in Tenang are predictable – UMNO telling Malay voters that PAS has become a stooge of DAP while MCA tells the Chinese voters that DAP has become a puppet of PAS. This political game of “divide and rule” is certainly not in the spirit of Najib’s 1Malaysia.

Pursuant to Hearts 1-0 win over reigning champions, Rangers on Saturday, which, in turn generated a lot of pre-match hype – Celtic still stamped their superiority by convincingly hammering Hearts 4-0. James Forrest's superb 16-yard drive put the home side in control after just seven minutes of an impressive display. Then Anthony Stokes curled in a delightful free-kick (53) before he broke clear to score a double (71). Paddy McCourt added a close-range finish (80) to dash Hearts' hopes in this exciting SPL match.

Liverpool clung on for a gritty 1-0 victory against Fulham. The Reds went ahead on 52 minutes when a Fernando Torres strike was deflected against the post and John Pantsil sliced a clearance into his own net. It was a lucky win. We have now moved up to seventh in the Premier League. Let’s hope the Reds can maintain the momentum.

In this Carling Cup game, Arsenal claimed their place in the final when they won 3-0 (aggregate 3-1) against a resilient Ipswich. A precise right-footed finish from Nicklas Bendtner (61) and a header from Laurent Koscielny (64) put the Gunners ahead in the tie. Cesc Fabregas then sealed victory for Arsenal when he collected a return pass from Andrey Arshavin before guiding the ball beyond goalie Marton Fulop (77).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Royal Commission of Inquiry for Teoh Beng Hock

I made a beeline for Brickfields to attend the MIA Toastmasters meeting tis evening. Johnny Yong had invited me and I felt obliged to attend. Also I have not been to this club for a long while – so it was really great to be back! There were twelve of us in attendance and I took on the role of Evaluator to Thilaga who delivered her advanced speech as well as being the General Evaluator. Altogether there were four speeches and I also took home a small prize for being voted the Best Evaluator. Not bad for a night’s “work” that was both enriching and enjoyable.

Prime Minister Najib Razak has already decided to scrutinize the investigation procedures of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) as a result of the open verdict reached with regard to the Teoh Beng Hock inquest. (For some background information, read my postings dated January 05 & 07, 2011). But now there is all round applause because Najib has bowed to widespread pressure and expanded today the terms of reference of a royal panel to probe how Teoh plunged to his death in 2009 following an overnight interrogation by anti-graft investigators in Shah Alam. Hip,hip, hooray! We may yet see justice for Teoh!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Loose Cannon

Yesterday, I started writing my contest speech but I did not get to finish it. And so with a speech that was half-finished, I went to the MAS Melor Toastmasters meeting where Thiagrajah (aka The Tiger of MAS) gave me the only speaking slot available. I used this opportunity to deliver the said speech – this being a CC speech # 9 Persuade with Power. I was also pushed into taking part in the Table Topics session and from the five participants who came forward, I was voted the Best Table Topics speaker. As a finale to this Lunar New Year-themed meeting, we all did partake in Yee Sang.

Today, I did complete the writing of the same speech and I delivered it at the Taman Indrahana Toastmasters Club where the club International Speech and Table Topics Contest was being held. Each of the contests had five participants showcasing their speaking prowess. I only managed to be the second runner-up in the International Speech contest. I was tensed and I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Truth be told, the message I was trying to convey in my speech wasn’t impactful enough. Still, I did get a placing, so it wasn't that bad! In the Table Topics contest, I did well to emerge as club champion. Well, at least in the latter, I will be representing Taman Indrahana in the Area B2 contest next month. As for the International Speech contest, I will need to make improvements on the speech and I will definitely try again at another club – either Area G1 or C5. I am not one to give up that easily.

Chua Soi Lek is really an idiot! He persists in defending his criticism of Muslim women who chose not to shake hands with men for religious reasons. In a wrathful response – as reported by Harakah Daily today – Chua stubbornly insisted that this norm practised by Muslim women was contrary to "basic culture and manners”.

And seemingly dissatisfied with his own outburst, he launched another verbal attack, saying there was nothing great about knowing the Islamic religious values. "So what is so great about that? That is your religious value which I don't know. How am I to know about the religious values when I'm not practising that religion?”

Chua is really a loose cannon that is about to self-destruct.


BN’s Azahar Ibrahim (Najib’s “winnable” candidate) is contesting against PAS’s Normala Sudirman. The January 30 by-election was called following the death of Sulaiman Taha on December 17. Sulaiman retained the Tenang state seat in the last general election after he defeated PAS’s Mohd Saim Siran by a majority of 2,492 votes. The seat is situated within the Labis Parliamentary constituency, a stronghold of MCA president Chua Soi Lek and currently represented by his son Chua Tee Yong. And commentators have generally described Tenang as an UMNO fortress – so PR is really hard-pressed to win. Still, we must learn to live with hope.
PAS candidate for Tenang, Normala Sudirman, and supporters hold up the Pinyin character for “change”, at a DAP Chinese New Year event, January 23, 2011. Picture by Choo Choy May
If one reads the print media, one cannot be faulted for thinking that the hot topic of this by-election revolves around handshakes, or in this case, the lack thereof. PAS candidate Normala has been the subject of criticism for not extending a handshake when meeting her constituents – a trivial subject brought up by MCA (The Sun, January 24, 2011, p 03).

"She will not come here (a Chinese temple), she doesn't even shake hands with the people. I have received complaints about this. She is like Anwar Ibrahim's wife. She wears gloves when she shakes hands. If you can accept this kind of Islamic values, go ahead and vote for PAS," said Chua as he made fun of Normala and quoted by online portal Malaysiakini.

Normala of course defended her stand, saying “…People have accepted Muslim women’s practice of not shaking a gentleman’s hand. Her PAS colleagues have called for BN to move away from the petty issue of handshaking. “Let us not reduce the issues in Tenang to this,” said PAS central committee member, Dzulkefly Ahmad, adding that there are bigger things to be concerned about.

Chua is ignorant. The Chinese actually have a unique style of greeting. The left-hand fingers and the right-hand fingers are interlocked together and waved up and down several times. This is the traditional form of greeting. Admittedly, this is not used much by the Chinese today because they are more influenced by the Western-style handshake. Sure, there are people who will shake hands when they meet you, but there are also those who prefer verbal greetings without the handshake. The Japanese greet each other by bowing. A bow ranges from a small nod of the head to a long, 90 degree bend at the waist. If the greeting takes place on a tatami floor, they then get on their knees in order to bow. Malay men and women do not usually shake hands with each other. A Malay man normally greets another man with a handshake without grasping the hands. He extends both hands to lightly touch the other man's outstretched hands, then brings his hands to his chest, meaning "I greet you from my heart." A Malay woman uses a similar form when greeting another woman. Indians join hands (palms together), and bring them to chest level as they bow slightly with a modest tilt of the head.

The ignoramus named Chua obviously needs lessons on Asian cultural practises. Otherwise, he is showing himself to be a fool by making a fuss over nothing!

Worse, Chua is insufferably insulting. What is so wrong about not shaking hands or even wearing gloves to shake hands? I don’t even need to explain this petty issue – have a look at the photos below. The Queen of England is giving a gloved handshake to Heads of State – is this an act of disrespect?

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth shaking hands with Trinidad and Tobago PM (October 2010)

The same Queen shaking hands with Manmohan Singh, PM of India (undated)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Koh Deflects Blame

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng is right to press for a probe on the Pulau Jerejak island resort development, which allegedly has cost the state RM30 million. It is not just a matter of public concern – sure there has been a lot of ill-conceived projects that have bled the public coffers because there is simply a lack of competency, accountability and transparency – but it is also about one person’s myopic view of project management at its most contrived. The point is, Malaysian politicians are good at starting initiatives, spend lots of public money, and then find out belatedly that these projects are going to fail or if they actually get off the ground, they would end up as white elephants. I am highlighting this particular issue because I cannot believe Koh is so inscrutably imbecilic.

This particular tourism project concerns the re-development of Pulau Jerejak off the eastern coast of Penang – it was once a penal and leper colony – that was transformed into a resort by a joint-venture company approved by former BN Chief Minister Koh Tsu Koon (left).

I am going to spare you the details but since he was fingered, Koh was quick to explain away the project’s failure. Now, brace yourselves, people – here are Koh’s reasons: The Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, the global financial crisis, and the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2003. I laughed so much that I farted – staccato bursts of pungent gas! I can’t help it! I ate lots of beans yesterday and to make matters worse, I seem to see shit whenever I think of Koh! It’s just amazing how lame Koh can be when giving excuses. And he did all this with a straight face.

As columnist, Wong Chun Wai wrote in Sunday Star yesterday (p F31), “That, unfortunately, is (the) problem among many politicians – they tend to blame everyone and everything…except themselves”.

Wong is right. The failure of the Tropical Island Resort project is the result of poor planning, management and marketing – it’s as simple as that. “We should be man enough to take responsibility and stop blaming terrorists, rogue speculators and diseases for the fiasco in Pulau Jerejak”, he wrote and I absolutely agree with him. But then, Koh is a wimp!

I think I should stop writing about Gerakan failures because they have assumed such ridiculous proportions that they look downright stupid. And I shouldn't waste precious time and using precious space ranting about them. After all, Gerakan is just a very tiny dot on the Malaysian political landscape.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Women and Chocolate

Neil Edley, professional chocolatier with a Pennsylvanian candy company called Sugar Plum Chocolates had claimed that “…women and chocolate have a natural chemical harmony like no other” (Webpage, posted October 26, 2009).

Therefore, I am not entirely surprised to read in Malaysian Today (January 20-February 02, 2011, p 03) about a study by cereal bar Fibre Plus in the UK that shows British women would pick chocolates over sex! Of the two thousand women who participated in this research, 33% admitted to day-dreaming about chocolate while only 18% thought of sex.

Fibre Plus spokeswoman, Sally Tribe said that women turn to chocolate “for comfort or to cheer themselves up”.

“For many, it never disappoints”, she added. What more can I say?

In Glasgow, Celtic stretched their Scottish Premier League lead to five points when they beat Aberdeen 1-0. Gary Hooper played a through-ball before passing to Anthony Stokes (above) who then slotted home on 27 minutes.

Kenny Dalglish earned his first win since returning to the managerial helm of Liverpool as his side beat Wolves 3-0 in a hard-fought game. Striker Fernando Torres tapped in (36) after a pass by the impressive Raul Meireles to put the Reds in front. This was followed by Meireles striking a fantastic 25-yard volley (50) to extend Liverpool’s lead. And then, Torres fired in another simple finish to complete Liverpool's win. Finally, we won – what a relief!

In the other EPL match against Wigan, Arsenal kept their winning ways when they trounced the former 3-0. Wigan keeper Ali Al Habsi did give Wigan hope with superb saves, the best of them denied Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie. But he was finally beaten when Van Persie lashed in from inside the box (21) and again when the Dutchman sweetly volleyed in from Fabregas's long pass (58). Van Persie scored a hat-trick when he blasted in a shot from close range (85).

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Blair, War Envoy

On October 07, 2010, Proton announced a voluntary recall of its Gen2 and Satria Neo cars made between 2004 and 2008 due to a clock spring malfunction that raised potential safety concerns. Since I drive the latter, I was affected. And yesterday morning, I was at the Proton COE Service Center, Subang Jaya to do the necessary. I have been regularly critical of Proton for just about everything but I wish to state here that I had a very pleasant experience at the Proton Center of Excellence Complex on Friday. Good customer service all round!

At the Iraq inquiry, former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair expressed his deep and profound regret at the loss of life as a result of his reckless Iraq misadventure – a complete turnaround from last year’s inquiry where he insisted he had "no regrets". It’s somewhat too little, too late, isn’t it?

During five hours of questioning at the Chilcot Inquiry, his second appearance after the January 2010 session, it emerged that Blair had told Bush three months after 9/11 that Britain would help overthrow Saddam Hussein; he ignored "provisional" legal advice that the war would be unlawful; and the Cabinet was kept in the dark about preparations for war. What this means is that he has already decided to go to war with Iraq – whether or not Iraq possessed WMDs!

It is most regrettable that he is the Middle East peace envoy when he is really a war-monger and a war criminal. Worse, yesterday, he had urged the West to deal with Iran. Blair continues to show off his belligerent posturing – perhaps the UK government should re-name his role as a “war envoy” – that would be more appropriate, don’t you think?

Najib's Thaipusam

Hindu devotees flocked to Batu Caves, a spectacular limestone cavern on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur on Thursday to mark a colorful Hindu festival called Thaipusam. But in Malaysia of late, even this celebration has been corrupted by politics. Somehow paying homage to Lord Muruga (also known as Lord Subramaniam) seems incomplete for some "politicized" people unless Najib Razak turns up to grace the occasion – at least that is the impression I get.

The Malaysian Insider had reported that Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Dhevasthanam chairman R. Nadarajah had likened the prime minister to “an elephant” for having Malaysians’ best interests at heart. He praised Najib Razak’s “just and fair” administration for promoting inclusiveness and belief in a multiracial society under the prime minister’s 1Malaysia concept. This was a Thaipusam address, and yet he was praising Najib sky high – just because it was attended by Najib and MIC top guns: “Like an elephant, your heart is full of courage. You know what needs to be done for the rakyat.” I find it puzzling that he is comparing Najib to an elephant. If we talk about courage, the idiom "as brave as a lion" immediately comes to mind. I pray he is not even mischievously trying to compare Najib to Lord Ganesha, the elephant-deity who has become one of the commonest mnemonics for anything associated with Hinduism. That would be sacrilege!

Image credits:

Najib of course is there to woo the Indians. And this elite group of Indians shamelessly showed how much they revered him – Najib had a larger than life presence at Batu Caves and even the garland for Najib was extraordinarily large. Have these people forgotten what Thaipusam represents? It is a day of penance and thanksgiving for Hindus for they believe that sins can be cleansed during Thaipusam.

If this is so, why is Najib so honored? Come Nadaraja, wake up and stop sucking up to the PM.

This Nadaraja fella had even proclaimed that he was touched by Najib’s sincerity when he first met the Prime Minister who told him, “I am your friend”. It is a big deal for Nadaraja, I suppose! The poor man must be so friend-less that when Najib spat out the hollow one-liner, he fell for it. Maybe, he didn’t know that the PM is also friends with Saiful (Anwar Ibrahim’s accuser). And other unsavory characters too.

If I am a Hindu, I would be outraged. Thaipusam is a deeply religious and spiritual occasion – yet there is a cut-out figure of Najib standing tall above the faithful. What is the message here? Hmmm, I wonder what Najib’s Muslim brethren think of this?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Snip, Snip, Snip

A male Sikh National Service (NS) trainee is refusing to continue with his NS training program, claiming he has been traumatized after his waist-long hair had been shorn by between 50 and 60 centimeters and was now shoulder length – this happened while he was asleep on Sunday. Basant Singh has never had his hair cut since he was born in accordance to the teachings of his religion.

Basant had lodged a police report on that Sunday afternoon itself regarding the incident at the Sungai Bakap NS camp in Penang. On Wednesday, Basant told a press conference that “I am not satisfied by what has happened and do not want to continue with the program… I want the authorities to investigate and take action against those responsible.”

And the authorities were prompt. The Malaysian Insider (Webpage told of an internal investigation that found no malice was intended towards 18-year-old Basant.

If hair was snipped off from a sleeping person – obviously it was intentional. And if so, how can there be no malice? Basant too had alleged that the camp commandant had stated that this was something "normal" done by "naughty youths" (Webpage, posted January 18).

"I don’t have confidence in them (camp authorities). I am also scared more harm would come to my son… My son kept his hair for 18 years. In just two weeks, (most of) it is gone”, said Surinderpal, the boy’s father.

This is a joke of Malaysian proportions!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Super-sized Coffee

American coffee chain Starbucks has introduced a super-sized cup that contains more liquid than an average human stomach. Already, the Grande (Italian for large, i.e. 473 ml) is more than enough for me, but now, they have introduced the Trenta receptacle ("Thirty" in Italian), which carries 31 fluid ounces (916 ml) in one cup – equivalent to more than an ordinary bottle of wine. Fourteen US states have welcomed Starbucks’ biggest coffee.

Starbucks claimed that it was launching the cup – 63 percent larger than the chain’s previous largest size, the Venti (Italian for twenty, i.e. 561 ml) – in response to demand. More likely, it is because Starbucks is already facing stiff competition, and this is one way to increase custom, and therefore, improve their $ turnover.

Howard Schultz, Starbucks' chief executive – a tough marketing executive raised in Brooklyn's housing projects who has revived the £7 billion-a-year company since returning to the helm in early 2008 – is thought to have been behind the Trenta. Schultz has been behind most of the innovations that have turned the company into a multi-national marketing success.

Starbucks is not the only one to introduce super sizes. Fast food and grocery firms in the US sell an increasing number of super-sized colas and coffees: the grocery chain 7-Eleven has cups called Big Gulps which can carry three pints, while Starbucks' increasingly close competitor, McDonald's, sells ice teas in 32 fluid ounce buckets for $1. – a Taiwan-based subsidiary of Next Media, a Hong Kong media conglomerate, which is purposed toward creating CGI-animated, humorous re-enactments of news stories, narrated in Mandarin and subsequently subtitled in English – got into the act too by presenting online this Starbucks news story, showing zombie customers lurching into Starbucks and staggering out carrying cups larger than their bodies. Check out this video clip:

I have uploaded another two clips also produced by just to give an insight into what they are all about – all these are January 19, 2011 postings. Alternatively, check out their webpage at

Pariahs and Niggers

A work of fiction which became compulsory Malay literature reading for Form Five students this year was caught in a tricky web of controversy because some quarters have alleged that the book contains material that is offensive to the Indian community. The Abdullah Hussain novel Interlok had carried the word “pariah” to describe the caste system and MIC had vehemently objected.

To me, it is just a word that resides in the said novel. Even if the word is inappropriate, in today's world, one should look at the context in which it is used. According to the many sources that I have researched, Interlok does not malign the Indian community. It attempts to relate through fiction the trials and tribulations of individuals in the community as they interacted with the Malays and the Chinese in the early years of the twentieth century. I don’t think this MIC-led opposition to the usage of the word “pariah” has to do with anything other than the desperate need to gain some political mileage for a political party that has long ago written its own epitaph.

Of course, “pariah” is inherently pejorative; even Mahatma Gandhi replaced it with “harijan” (children of God) in the midst of the Indian struggle for Independence from British rule. It is the same with the word “nigger” – a common ethnic slur that is now no longer in active use.

The word “nigger” is liberally found in Mark Twain’s literary works. Alan Gribben's whitewashed reworking of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, means that in these new versions, Gribben changed the word "nigger" to "slave" 219 times in Huck Finn, and four times in Tom Sawyer. But really, will the replacement of one word help? Isn’t the word “slave” just as objectionable?

To me, the question isn't to censor or not to censor. For those of us who cannot stomach this kind of language, we can always read the abridged and expurgated versions. Admittedly, we must also cater to those who are still juvenile in their thinking, and I am not at all referring to high school students!

Personally, I prefer the non-sanitized version. It's up to the individual, I guess.

Arsenal played superbly to produce a classy 3-1 win over Leeds to book their place in the FA Cup fourth round. The Gunners took the lead when Samir Nasri slotted in from Andrey Arshavin's pass (5) and Bacary Sagna thumped home a second (35). Although Bradley Johnson's screamer (37) gave hope to Leeds, Robin van Persie squashed it when he headed in a superb Nicklas Bendtner cross (76) to finish off Leeds once and for all. Indeed, the Gunners were impressive throughout. If they keep this up, they will surely win trophies!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Insensitive MCA Lawyer

On Thursday, January 17, 2011, lawyer Ng Kian Nam apologized for lodging a complaint about the volume of the “azan” from Masjid Al-Ikhlasiah in KL's Kampung Kerinchi and he then had the audacilty to describe the matter as a “misunderstanding” – the latter description however was certainly misplaced. If the complaint was specific in nature, how could it give rise to a misunderstanding? And his grievance, according to The Malaysian Insider, was made directly to the Prime Minister’s Office and copied to not less than 5 Cabinet Ministers appealing for their intervention in lowering the loudspeaker volume of the local mosque’s azan on December 20 last year.

Ng, who identified himself as a MCA Youth leader even griped that the “azan” (the call to prayer) often disturbed his sleep in the mornings. Additionally, he had suggested the authorities set specific guidelines to control the volume of the loudspeakers at mosques.

This led to a noisy protest by Malay NGOs (Pekida and Perkasa) last Friday.

And so at the press conference on Thursday, Lembah Pantai UMNO division chief Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin was there to hold Ng’s hand when he said he was sorry. The former then declared he was happy with Ng’s public apology and did not want the issue to be sensationalized any further.

But when this brouhaha came to the public's attention, there was no attempt by the Prime Minister, who was the primary recipient of the complaint letter, to immediately clarify the matter or calm the potentially explosive incident. Later, UMNO had intervened to settle this issue for MCA – but let’s get this straight. Ng had admitted he did make a complaint against the said mosque. And when UMNO orchestrated the public confession, all was quickly forgiven. Yet, in a “similar”-type incident, Seputeh MP, Teresa Kok was detained under the ISA on September 12, 2008 for allegedly telling mosque officials in Kota Damansara, Sri Serdang and Puchong Jaya to tone down the “azan”. Teresa had denied this mischievous allegation, which first came to light in the Utusan newspaper.

So there we have it – two contrasting punishments for two different individuals. If you are in the opposition, then I am really sorry for you because the ISA is ever ready to manacle you. If you are a government underling, all you need to do is say sorry and you go scot free. This is today’s Malaysia! A case of double standards!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Classroom Diversity

Now that the classes have begun, this will be one heckuva semester because I have more than a hundred students in my class. Given that it's only seven weeks, I will surely be busy as a beaver.

And like last semester, I have a diverse group of students coming from Indonesia, Myanmar, Laos, Hong Kong, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iran, Germany, Tanzania, Botswana, Uganda, Nigeria and of course, Malaysia.

I turned up at the KL Advanced Toastmasters meeting yesterday, and because attendance was poor – only nine came – I took on dual roles as Table Topics Evaluator and Speech Evaluator (for Ahmad Zakie). 

In spite of the low turnout, it was a good meeting – this can be attributed to the quality speakers and role-players (Zakie, Lucky, Lorna and even I did a relatively good job!).

And I am glad to read that Utusan had called off the domestic inquiry into the alleged misconduct of their senior journalist (Hata Wahari) yesterday – after the prosecuting officer refused to allow him to have a representative or to record the proceedings (The Sun, January 18, 2011, p 2). It was an abrupt ending to an inquiry that lasted about 30 minutes or less. And nobody is quite sure whether the inquiry had been adjourned or dismissed.

This bullying of staff by an arrogant media establishment is shameful.

Meanwhile Hata has vowed to continue fighting for press freedom.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Indeed, Why Blog?

I found these YouTube video clips yesterday but I didn’t get a chance to upload them until this afternoon. Y'see, I was busy completing my PowerPoint slides for today’s lecture – so please excuse me. I have my priorities too! Anyway, these clips make for interesting listening (and watching) because they address the frequently-asked question “Why blog?” And this is from a business perspective:

And yes, my PowerPoint slides on “Leadership” are interesting too! At least I believe so!

Before the start of the EPL game, there was already this air of expectation ahead of the Merseyside derby clash, heightened by the Liverpool faithful giving a rousing rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone before kick-off. The screen showed a sea of red giving vociferous support to their team. And I and the others with chilled beer glasses in hand were also wanting the Reds to win. Alas, Liverpool could only managed a 2-2 draw against Everton and leaving both sides only four points above the relegation zone. Sure, Liverpool started confidently but loses steam just as quickly – in fact, they were lucky to even earn a point in this match.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Students for Blogging

Just awhile ago, I read on about this group of American high school students who have a Science blog. This is something that I had envisioned some time ago too. I could consider initiating a Business blog provided I can entice School of Business students at Sunway University to share my interest and enthusiasm for this project. This (as in using blogs in a classroom setting) is a brilliant idea. In many ways, the blog format offers students and teachers a great platform where they can broach topics, share ideas, practice their writing, and even interact with experts in the field. And why limit it to just the serious stuff? Why not incorporate other student activities as well? The blog can be a platform to promote the School of Business and Sunway University. Now, wouldn’t that be cool?

As you can see from the video below, those Science students think it's cool:

Now, to find students keen to take on this challenge! Tomorrow seems like a good time since the 2011 semester will begin and my “Leadership” classes take off.
NUJ president, Hata Wahari has been suspended by Utusan Melayu Berhad – for allegedly insulting the company and tarnishing its image – pending the completion of the domestic inquiry Sunday Star, January 16, 2011, p.N10). This disciplinary action came as no surprise but it is regrettable that Hatta’s fellow reporters did not come out in support of Hatta. My previous posting on this issue appeared on January 04, 2011 under the heading "Is your vocabulary growing?".

It is good to see Arsenal adopting a ruthless approach and putting struggling West Ham to the sword. Yes, Gunners annihilated Hammers 3-0. For the first goal, West Ham’s Wayne Bridge allowed Theo Walcott space on the right to send in a pass that was expertly dummied by Samir Nasri, allowing Robin Van Persie to swivel and smash right-footed past goalie Robert Green (13). The second goal came when Van Persie, played onside by Bridge, burst to the byline and pulled the ball back for Walcott to blast into the roof of the net from six yards (41). And Van Persie again gave Arsenal their third goal from the spot (77) after Bridge fouled Walcott to cap a sparkling Gunners display. This comprehensive defeat is expected to signal the end of Avram Grant’s tenure as Hammers boss, as BBC Sport had reported that former Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill is expected to replace the dour Grant.

Najib The Tireless Entertainer

Najib Razak is an extremely busy Prime Minister because he is already having a full plate, attending to the affairs of the country. But it is heartening to note that he can still find time to interact with fellow citizens. It demonstrates that tireless Najib is very down-to-earth, approachable, communicative. And so he invited Malaysians to pose questions to him over Twitter and Facebook last Tuesday in order that he can personally respond to them. Therefore, it shows the maturity and intelligence of Malaysians when they indeed asked sophisticated and weighty questions to the PM, as this video clip illustrates:

As Najib said, these questions had given him a fresh insight into how Malaysians think and use the social media. Important questions that really matter. Like whether Pirates or Ninjas will win? Like who irons the PM's clothes? Like where to get the best char koay teow?

Of course, Najib was being polite or perhaps, condescending? Methinks, what he really meant was that Malaysians are so obtuse and half-baked – it is little wonder that he can easily manipulate the vast majority of them. That perhaps explains why we have a government that is so good at transforming the country into everything so mediocre – and I am being overbearingly civil in choosing this adjective.

Still, I admire a Prime Minister who is not afraid to answer these challenging questions from dim-witted simpletons who masquerade as Malaysians! After all, we get the Prime Minister that we deserve, if you know what I mean.

Celtic whipped Hibernian 3-0 in this SPL game to allow the Glasgow side to maintain their No. 1 position at the top of the table. Gary Hopper started off superbly for Celtic when he scored after 44 minutes. Celtic built on that quickly following the break after Lewis Stevenson's clumsy challenge on Anthony Stokes led to a penalty, that the latter scored (50), before adding another with a sublime overhead kick (65).

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bloody Nose for Tory-Lib Dem Coalition

I am already pursuing one of my resolutions – at least I have made a small start. I have managed to get five Sunway staffers to agree to join me to start a Toastmasters club here at the University.

Labor’s winning candidate Debbie Abrahams. Photo credit:

UK voters have sent a "very clear message" to the Conservative-Liberal Democrat alliance as they suffered a bloody nose in their first by-election test. Clegg’s party failed to overturn a wafer-thin Labor majority in Oldham East and Saddleworth (a county constituency in Greater Manchester), even though the sitting Labor MP was disqualified for lying about his opponent during the general election campaign.

There was a flurry of accusations against the Tories that they had intentionally fought an uninspired campaign in a shallow attempt to give the Lib-Dems a clear run. Needless to say, the Tory vote collapsed spectacularly (i.e. they managed only 4,481 votes). Labor extended their majority from just 103 at the general election last May to 3,558 votes.