Sunday, July 31, 2011

Three Blind Mice

Finally, today I finished marking the BMB2206 exam papers and almost immediately I began to start on the other stack of BMB3303 scripts. Groan! A lecturer’s work is never done even when classes have ended.

A respected former senior judge NH Chan has branded the three judges on the Teoh Beng Hock royal commission of inquiry “three blind mice” for concluding that the political aide committed suicide despite lacking expert opinion. He said the commission had “no business” forming such an opinion as none of the experts it called upon gave the opinion that Teoh committed suicide. He pointed out that this went against Section 45 of the Evidence Act 1950, which states that when a court has form an opinion on a point of science, the opinions of experts are relevant facts.

“The commissioners must not substitute their own opinion for that of the experts! Yet this was precisely what the RCI did! By assuming the mantle of a forensic psychiatric expert it came to the conclusion that Teoh took his own life”. He added that the finding that Teoh was driven to suicide after relentless questioning from MACC officers was also unfounded, and lamented the fact that the public still did not know how the political aide died.

I would even venture to suggest that the RCI was just a show. The RCI was never interested to find out the truth. The RCI was Najib’s way of appeasing public anger without any real intention to get at the truth. Najib is such a wanker!

All eyes are now on what steps the Teoh family, and their legal advisors, will pursue next to gain justice for the young man’s passing on. Without justice, there cannot be closure!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

FAM's Apology to Chelsea

I was at Pusat Bandar Damansara this morning for the HELP University College Toastmasters meeting. I must admit that the members immediately infected everyone with their enthusiasm. But when the serious stuff got underway, I was bowled over – especially when the prepared speeches commenced. I was particularly impressed with Tan Tze Yi (I just love her intensity) but honestly, everybody who spoke made a hit with me. I too actively participated – I was one of five Table Topics speakers and one of four evaluators. I am also thankful that Zoe gave me stage time as the Area Governor for G3 and I used it to prompt and encourage members to immerse themselves in Toastmastering so that they become good communicators and leaders. Oh yes, Rajveer Singh was voted the Best Project Speaker whilst Siew Peng grabbed both the Best Table Topics Speaker and Best Evaluator awards. I am happy to award a score of 9 out of a 10 because I really, really, really enjoyed this meeting.

The Football Association of Malaysia had apologized to Chelsea’s Israeli player Yossi Benayoun and his club for any anti-Semitic abuse suffered by the midfielder during a friendly match with the Malaysian XI in Kuala Lumpur on July 21, 2011. This came after Chelsea FC lodged a complaint that their midfielder was booed and jeered whenever he touched the ball in the 1-0 win against Malaysia. Live everywhere else, racism is alive and kicking.

Bar Council Forum on FOI

Last night, a group of us from SUBS attended the Bar Council forum on FOIA (Freedom of Information Act). It featured Universiti Malaya Professor Abu Bakar Munir, Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin (BN) and Klang MP Charles Santiago (DAP). If the audience had expected a fiery debate, they would have been disappointed because it was a civil discourse. All were in agreement that FOI is a good thing. I am putting on record here that Khairy supported FOI but with caveats.

Freedom of Information legislation comprises laws that guarantee access to data held by the state. They establish a "right-to-know" legal process by which requests may be made for government-held information, to be received freely or at minimal cost, barring standard exceptions. And I learned that there are 86 FOIA countries that includes Zimbabwe even! When the talk centered on FOI in Malaysia, Charles (above) reasoned that FOI will not see the light of day anytime soon because there is a culture of “secrecy” within the government. Khairy chose to be hopeful – at least that was how I saw it.

I was also tickled by some of the things Khairy (left) kept repeating throughout the forum. He referred to the audience as ‘hostile’ and the power structure (i.e. the federal government) as UMNO-BN! It sure tells you a lot about Khairy’s perception of KL-ites. The people who came to this forum were a motley collection of lawyers, students, academics, NGO activists, media reps and other unidentified individuals - certainly, not an antagonistic or even rancorous crowd. And also that Khairy understood that political power is in the hands of the UMNO elite, full-stop. I am not sandbagging the role of the so-called BN ‘partners’ but the fact of the matter is that if you are running dogs, you are merely expected to follow orders and submit to the UMNO leadership.

PSM leader M Sugumaran and PSM deputy chairman M Sarasvathy both claimed the police repeatedly tried to link the party to communism during an intense 17-day interrogation.

Sugumaran revealed that the police had forced him to recall activities spanning nearly 30 years of his career in activism. They had wanted to prove a similarity between PSM and Malayan Communist Party (MCP), he alleged.

“They said, ‘Look, PSM’s chairman is Nasir Hashim, a Malay. And yet, the entire party is full of Indians. MCP was led by Rashid Maidin and the others were all Chinese. That was how they inferred that PSM was promoting communism,” he said.

Sarasvathy added: “…The cop said that he has been around for 32 years and he knew what communism was about, that socialism leads to communism” – and she responded: “I told him, ‘You are behind the times. This is the 21st century socialism.’ Then he went off”.

I am very impressed with the way Malaysian police try to produce their version of the truth!

PSM 6 Freed

Hip, hip, hooray! The PSM 6 were freed unconditionally on July 29 at 5:30 PM - after 28 days of detention.

And Najib Razak had the cheek to make the outlandish claim that the release order had been in accordance with the rule of law and that the decision had been made by the police based on their judgment and goodwill (Star, July 30, 2011, p 01). He was crapping again. He still didn’t get it that Malaysians are not going to fall for his falsehoods. There is no rule of law in Bolehland. And the police take instructions very well; they are obedient.

Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar asserted that the order to release all Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) detainees had been a political decision. “It was not because the police came to their senses or they became honest and professional. They were not,” he said. He insisted that the police were bent on keeping the PSM 6 detained as a way to scare other Malaysians from voicing their dissent.

Dr Jeyakumar even gave a backhanded compliment to Najib, adding that the latter had made a “smart move” to allow the release of the six before things worsened for the BN government. Of course, Najib did the smart thing – his political survival is hanging on a thread. Pakatan Rakyat are poised to challenge him. Enlightened Malaysians desperately want to boot him out. And I am not counting the forces within UMNO who are sharpening their knives. Muhyiddin is just waiting to pounce. Mukhriz is plotting. Mahathir is smirking. KJ is weighing his options. Pak Lah is err... sleeping.

Najib is reaching a cul-de-sac. The end is near. And Najib knows it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Green Invasion

Yes, I am still marking BMB2206 exam papers. It’s like being held captive in a wicked nightmare and I can find no escape routes. I know I cannot do anything about it but wait anxiously until I wake up from my deep sleep. As I toiled and slogged and plugged away at this tiresome task, I too await the time when I have completed this cumbrous chore and I can be set free! And I will, of course, celebrate with a couple of chilled beers!

Going green can take on a deleterious meaning in China. Beachgoers in the coastal city of Qingdao, Shandong province were met with a fuzzy, green blanket of ocean last week, as the water there exploded with algae blooms. Algae blooms are typically caused by pollution in China and suck up huge amounts of oxygen needed by marine wildlife to survive. The algae called enteromorpha prolifera are not poisonous but they leave a foul stench when they wash up on beaches.

And according to one report I read, this phenomenon is endemic to this part of China. The inhabitants have witnessed this spectacle on the same beach in 2010, 2009, and 2008. If you can recall that in August 2008, an invasion of algae blooms threatened the sailing competition of the Olympic Games when they engulfed waters surrounding the event's venue in Qingdao. Up to 10,000 soldiers and volunteers – some reports even put the number at 20,000 – were enlisted to clean up more than a million tons of the dross as they raced to clear the waters in time for the Olympics.

China (and every other country) must demonstrate political will to contain activities that contribute to environmental degradation. Otherwise, our excesses will one day threaten this earth itself. It is worthwhile to ponder on this quote: “The earth we abuse and the living things we kill will, in the end, take their revenge; for in exploiting their presence we are diminishing our future” (Marya Mannes, More in Anger, 1958). We only have one planet – let’s try to remember that.

Image credit: REUTERS/China Daily China Daily Information Corp – CDIC

Image credit:

Image credit:

Image credit:

Feeling the Blues

Image credit:

Image credit:

Malaysian football fans will have noticed that our national footballers (a.k.a. Tigers) are feeling bluesy lately – coach K Rajagopal had gone bonkers because he made a weird decision to have his players trade their traditional yellow and black stripes for a blue jersey instead.

For the ignorant, yellow and black are the national team’s home colors while blue, red and white are their away colors. So yesterday’s decisive game at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium between Malaysia’s Tigers and Singapore Lions for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Asian Qualifiers Round Two should see us in yellow – but nope, we were decked in broody blue.

What was Rajagopal trying to prove? Why did he discard yellow? Was he proclaiming his servitude to the BN government? Is it because yellow is Bersih and blue is BN? He should have paid heed to the advice given by Prof James Chin of Monash University, i.e. stick to coaching instead of dabbling in politics. I am making sense, aren’t I? If you are still doubtful, tell me have you seen a blue tiger?

Image credit: The Star Online, July 28, 2011

Anyway, if Rajagopal did suffer from Najib-induced schizophrenia, then I was right to worry for the national team with this jerk in the driver’s seat. And as we all know, in spite of vociferous Malaysian support, our national team could only manage a 1-1 draw with Singapore – which meant that the latter won 6-4 on aggregate. [Singapore held the advantage, thanks to a 5-3 first leg win at their Jalan Bandar Stadium last Saturday]. And if you've watched the game, you'll agree that the Tigers didn't show any sense of urgency at all.

For the record, Malaysia began competing in the World Cup qualifying rounds in 1974 and we have never progressed beyond the second round – last night represented our eleventh attempt. Simply put, we are just not good enough! And Rajagopal is not helping matters with his ‘blue’ joke! Today, for sure, a lot of Malaysians will definitely be feeling the blues!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Palanivel Gets Brave

I am still slavishly marking exam scripts today. This is no fun, I am thinking and I am sorely tempted to bury the exam booklets and throw away my pen. But I dismiss the seducement and continue to plod on. It is hard work and I am not enjoying it at all but it pays my bills. Sigh!

The Malaysian Insider today highlighted MIC president G Palanivel’s (above photo) gallantry when he advised his boss, Prime Minister Najib Razak to release the PSM6 and instead focus on gaining support for the 13th general election. He said the continued detention of the PSM leaders was attracting unnecessary "worldwide attention" and might also impact the BN when the general election visits Malaysians soon (Webpage.
release-of-psm-6/, posted July 28, 2011).

Not bad, eh? An UMNO lackey did manage to summon a little courage and dared to voice his two-cents worth of displeasure! The other possibility would be that this is just a Palanivel 'sandiwara' but I will give him the benefit of the doubt.

This is the first time an MP (i.e. Dr Jeyakumar) has been detained under the EO, which provides for detention without trial and which can be extended to two years, just like the controversial Internal Security Act (ISA). The antiquated EO was enacted in 1969 as a temporary measure in response to the May 13 race riots.

In the meantime, the cowardly MCA Chinese are hiding under the table. It is not a big table anyway since they are very much an endangered species. These sad humans are just bidding their time before they become extinct in a fast-changing political landscape.

Paper Eyelashes

Inspired by the art of Chinese paper cutting, these delicately pretty and intricately cut paper eyelashes are so utterly exquisite. They come in a really neat little box with a display window and can be reused over and over again and they also make a fabulous and surprising gift and are just plain fun to wear. The designs come steeped in Chinese symbolic meaning with "Deer and Butterfly" meaning "free, sensitive and delicate" (photo above). You receive one pair that can be used as is or cut up and used. Use with regular eyelash glue. By Paperself. £12.50. Kindly check out website

Yesterday, PKR lawyers (i.e. Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, N. Surendran, Latheefa Koya and Subang MP Sivarasa Rasiah) demanded that high-ranking police officers as well as those in the home ministry who had sanctioned the violent conduct of the police against Bersih 2.0 supporters be charged in court.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders have also accused the police of “waging war” on those who gathered to call for free and fair elections, citing a Bar Council report claiming that police had “arbitrarily, indiscriminately and excessively” fired from water cannons and launched tear gas canisters at close range and at eye-level at demonstrators.

I don’t think any of us is so naïve as to believe that action will be taken but this is a first step in demanding accountability from those in power who made decisions that are contrary to the public’s interests.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Are you listening, Najib?

I peeled my eyes away from the stockpile of BMB2206 exam scripts on my desk and they settled on this news about yesterday’s public discourse between the Election Commission and the Bersih 2.0 chairperson, titled “What next after July 9” organized by the Karangkraf group.

I guffawed when the EC deputy chairman Wan Ahmad Wan Omar absolved himself and his colleagues of any responsibility towards electoral reforms amid boos and jeers. I rolled on the floor for a whole sixteen seconds laughing my head off when this same clown said the EC is powerless to act or implement any of Bersih’s demands, and that only the “government of the day” has the final say on the electoral laws in the country. And when I went back to my chair, I chuckled again when Wan Ahmad advised Bersih to discuss their concerns with the federal government, repeatedly stating that the EC had no powers to amend laws. By then, tears were flowing freely down my cheeks. I didn’t know whether I was laughing or crying.

The truth is out! The EC is impotent. So what has the government got to say about this? Malaysians are clamouring for electoral reforms. Malaysians want clean and fair elections. Bersih’s message is clear and resounding. Are you listening, Najib?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Throw the Book at MACC

At the Taman Indrahana Toastmasters meeting this evening, I delivered my CC speech # 10 Inspire Your Audience titled “The Fear Factor” – this is my fourth round – and in the process contributing half-a-point to the club. The audience learnt about my five phobias. Autophobia (fear of being alone); thanatophobia (fear of dying); gynophobia (fear of women); glossophobia (fear of public speaking) and including victorophobia (fear of winning) – the last term was actually coined by me there and then as I spoke. It was an interesting speech and of course, it was well-received. I was even voted Best Speaker. But Chrristine Ngiam was my evaluator and I knew I could expect her to cross her t’s and dot her i’s. She was meticulous and thorough in her feedback as only a good evaluator would. Whilst she agreed it was a well-delivered speech, she opined that my speech was more entertaining than inspiring. I do not necessarily disagree with her but I am also of the view that even if a speech was given the light-hearted treatment, it can still inspire. Still she was right that I evoked humor and not emotions!

And yes, sigh! I am still marking exam scripts! Poor me!

Nazri Aziz’s (left) version of the RCI report was a distortion of facts that sketched Teoh Beng Hock as a disconsolate figure and a "weak character" who was intoxicated with quiet guilt that caused him to end his sorry life. At least that is what they want us to believe.

But, if you had cared to read the full RCI report, you will know that the MACC is the guilty party. The straightforward conclusion regarding Teoh’s demise was a mischievous exercise in daring deception.

And Hishammuddin Hashim, the then deputy director for Selangor and his officers Arman Alies and Mohd Ashraf Mohd Yunus were culpable in the interrogation of Teoh. The trio should be punished. Charge them for abetment of suicide under Section 306 of the Penal Code, or as DAP's Gobind Singh Deo suggested, cite them under Section 304A of the Penal Code for culpable homicide.

Two others, Bulkini Paharuddin and Raymond Nion anak John Timban were guilty of giving false testimony in court proceedings, punishable with up to seven years imprisonment under Section 193 of the Penal Code.

The Attorney-General must throw the book at them! He must act now before Malaysians lose all respect for the government and their institutions! These MACC miscreants must not go scot-free.

Massacre in Norway

On Friday, twisted Anders Behring Breivik detonated a bomb in the heart of Oslo’s government district and then set off 45 km (28 miles) away to the island of Utoeya to shoot youngsters in cold-blood. Seventy-six innocent lives were extinguished.

Last night, the heartbroken city of Oslo came together in a united show of defiance – to honor their dead and show the world they are unbeaten. More than 150,000 marched solemnly through the streets at dusk – almost all with tears in their eyes and a single rose in their hand as a tribute to those who died.

And Norwegians stood shoulder to shoulder as their country's leaders urged them to create good from Norway's day of pure evil.

As the country struggles to come to terms with the violence, many say the twin attacks have only served to bring people even closer together. Even Norway’s King Harald V had declared: “I keep the faith that freedom is stronger than fear. I keep the faith in an open Norwegian democracy and society”.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Star Features Dining a la Camelot

I had a harrowing day today, marking as many exam scripts as I possibly could. Sure, I made good progress but that meant that I had virtually nil time to prepare my speech that I was supposed to present this evening. As I reached Mercu UEM in KL Sentral, I didn’t know how or where to even start because my mind was exhausted. It was then that I chanced upon an idiom “A dime a dozen” and without thinking further, decided to adopt this as the title of my CC speech # 9 Persuade with Power. And just as quickly, my speech took shape - I knew I would talk about Toastmasters – that in the pursuit of awards and points, many of us forget what making speeches is all about. In the process, we conveniently sacrificed quality for quantity. Sad but true.

I was proud of myself because it was a good speech! Zakie, my lead evaluator had nice things to say – therefore I won’t repeat them! And Philip Wong admitted he liked the speech because it was an excellent reality check. Maybe a KL Advanced Toastmasters meeting was not the right platform for this speech because I daresay most of us express, articulate and speak very well. I know for a fact that we take pride in the speeches we craft and deliver.

In my blog posting dated July 04, 2011 titled “Deficient IAEA Report” – I had highlighted this dining a la Camelot where diners feasted on medieval-themed dishes. Well, this event made an appearance in the Star newspaper last Friday – check out page 8 in StarMetro – and in full color too! Well-deserved publicity for Sunway University's School of Hospitality, Tourism & Leisure Management.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fake Apple

China is well-known for their rip-offs. Whatever your heart desires, they would, in all likelihood, have the fake versions. A blogger BirdAbroad living in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming has discovered the mother-of-all-rip-offs – a whole Apple store! She describes a store housing display cases filled with what appear to be Apple products, that unmistakable Apple Store design, "the classic Apple store winding staircase and weird upstairs sitting area" and even Apple "employees" wearing “those blue t-shirts with the chunky Apple name tags around their necks”.

But of course, some things were evidently not right: the stairs were poorly made and the walls hadn’t been painted properly. The name tags around the necks of the friendly salespeople didn’t actually have names on them – just an Apple logo and the anonymous designation “Staff”. And Apple never writes “Apple Store” on their signs – they just put up the glowing, iconic fruit.

That’s not all. A ten minute walk around the corner revealed not one, but two more rip-off Apple stores. I believe it is safe to conclude that there are many such stores all over China!

BirdAbroad has this to say about this country: “China warps your mind into believing that anything is possible, if you stay here long enough” (July 20, 2011 posting titled “Are you listening, Steve Jobs?”).

Check out the photos from the said blog:

Teoh Beng Hock's Shame According to Utusan

I arranged for Sunway University to be the venue for the Division G TLI on Saturday. To the uninitiated, TLI is the Toastmasters Leadership Institute and it conducts club officer training. We had 103 participants in total and I could easily see that at least 80% of those who came were first-timers. It was also my first time to be directly involved in the TLI and I facilitated the group that consisted of the Vice Presidents of Education. I can speak from experience because I served in that very position last term with Taman Indrahana Toastmasters Club and this term, I am still doing the same job for KL Advanced Toastmasters Club.

Utusan Malaysia today downplayed the cause of Teoh Beng Hock’s death, saying that it is common for witnesses in corruption cases to commit suicide to avoid shaming their families or organization. Awang Selamat – a pseudonym under which editors of Utusan Malaysia write – claim today in Mingguan Malaysia, the Malay daily’s Sunday edition that “… the act of sacrificing oneself is not something alien to a corruption case.”

They’re insulting my intelligence. And they’re also missing the point – Teoh was not even the perpetrator of a crime, only a witness. And we all know by now except for the morons at Utusan, there was no evidence of any wrongdoing.

And what about the case of Ahmad Sarbani, the Selangor Customs assistant director, found dead on April 6 in another MACC location? The most recent outcome from the inquest was a forensic investigator's conclusion that Ahmad Sarbani did not jump to his death nor was he pushed from the KL anti-graft office. The other story that came out from the same inquest was from DSP Sharul Othman, from the Bukit Aman Forensic Laboratory, who testified that Ahmad Sarbani fell to his death "while trying to leave via the window of the pantry on the third floor". It was an absurd story that the public was again expected to fall hook, line and sinker. I can already see where this inquest will lead to - it is probable that it will turn out to be as inconclusive as the Teoh Beng Hock's inquest!

It just goes to show that in Bolehland, there are many warped Malaysians who have plunged to the depraved depths of spectacular stupidity. And they seem to think that the remaining Malaysians are so naive, trusting and gullible.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Malaysia Deports French Lawyer

William Bourdon arrived in Penang on Thursday. The next day, he traveled to Kuala Lumpur - but he was not permitted to disembark from the plane. Instead he was detained and subsequently deported. The Immigration Department told much later that this action was taken as Bourdon had violated the terms of his social visit pass. No further explanation was offered.

Bourdon was the French lawyer - working pro-bono - representing the human rights advocacy group Suaram, the latter having filed a legal case against DCNS back in December 2009 alleging corruption in a 114 million euros ($164 million) that the French shipbuilder paid to Malaysian firm Perimekar Sdn Bhd to facilitate the submarine deal. The matter has passed the initial inquiry stage and is expected to be heard in French courts in September of this year.

Of course Prime Minister Najib Razak has denied there was any corruption. He was defense minister in 2002 when Malaysia ordered the two diesel-electric Scorpene attack submarines as part of a naval upgrade. (We have since received both the submarines).

According to Malaysiakini, "thus far Bourdon's team had uncovered evidence which may point to millions of ringgit paid out to top Malaysian government officials" (July 22, 2011).

Anyway, I can only speculate that Bourdon's speaking engagement in Penang where he said those beneficiaries and kickbacks from the RM7.3 billion Scorpene submarine deal would be revealed may have triggered paranoia. After all, he was addressing Malaysians 'live' and this definitely will not sit well with the crooks in high places. Besides, Bourdon knows too much and for him to be in Malaysia is indeed a chilling prospect because more Malaysians will get to hear from him. And don't forget, Najib is alleged to be involved in this deal somehow.

So it is understandable lah that the government is very afraid!

The other disturbing point is that Malaysian authorities failed to acknowledge the fact that Bourdon was Suaram’s lawyer on the submarine case and that his deportation would be a breach of his right to perform his duty as a lawyer – not that the government gives two hoots about it.

And this has also opened up other cans of worms. There is now renewed interest in other billion-ringgit Malaysian defense contracts which some parties have claimed to be as scandalous as the RM7.3 billion Scorpene deal highlighted above. DAP’s Tony Pua identified these as the RM2.3 billion for 12 Eurocopter EC725 helicopters, RM6 billion for six offshore patrol vessels (OPV) and RM7.8 billion for 257 armored personnel carriers. He said that questions over these deals in the media or in Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee were met with the repeated refrain of “itu rahsia” (that is secret) – the armed forces and defense ministry officials had insisted they could not expose military secrets to the rest of the world. Okay, this is another joke, hahaha!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Najib Cancels Italian Vacation

I was at Bandar Pusat Damansara to attend a HELP University College Toastmasters Club event this evening. I officiated the installation of their new executive committee and I was mighty glad to see Area Governors G1 & G4 (Lucky and Thiagarajah) also present to give support. Even Division G Governor, Rohijas Sharif came. A fabulous evening because everything was fantastic: the people, the food, the energy and even the serious stuff, i.e. the installation! The only hiccup was the missing gavel! As I have said, it was a fun evening and let’s not forget too that this was entirely organized by HELP students.

I had a good laugh when I read that prime minister Najib Razak – who returned today from working visits to Turkmenistan, the UK and the Vatican – had publicly thanked his wife Rosmah Mansor for agreeing to cancel his family's week-long Italian holiday "for the sake of Malaysians back home".

Already it has been reported in Parliament that the government had spent more than RM17 million for trips made by the couple since 2008, with one-third of the amount being spent in the first six months of this year alone. It was also revealed that RM134,317.76 was spent to cover Rosmah's expenses during her January 2011 trip to Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bangladesh, following criticism that she had spent RM140,000 for an overnight stay at Dubai's luxury hotel Atlantis (Harakah Daily, posted July 22, 2011).

Najib was quoted as saying by Bernama: “I told my family I felt that I should return to Malaysia…” I am sure some Malaysians will feel very comforted that Najib put the people’s interests at heart – this master of BS surely deserves an Oscar for his extraordinary ability to tug at their heartstrings! For those of us who saw through this charade, it is obvious that all is not well in Putrajaya!

And talking about Najib and his consort’s extravagant expenses – it reminds me of Rosmah’s immoderate indulgence for everything that smacks of sinful luxury. Yes, this includes that other news about the alleged purchase of a massive designer diamond ring identified as a 'Natural Fancy Blue Gray Cushion Cut Diamond Ring' in April of this year at a whopping price of $24 million (RM73.48 million), with a blog “Milo Suam” even publishing a screenshot of a customs declaration.

Suicide Under Duress

The Royal Commission of Inquiry has ruled that Teoh Beng Hock was driven to commit suicide – the result of relentless pressure from belligerent and prolonged questioning by MACC officers.

It even identified a senior Selangor anti-graft officer, Hishammuddin Hashim – now the Negeri Sembilan MACC director – as the person who was “passionately involved” in the graft operation against a Selangor DAP lawmaker, that finally led to Teoh’s death. He launched a full-scale fund abuse investigation solely on an informant’s “mere belief” and without supporting facts.

“There was no direct evidence to prove that Hishammuddin had a hand in the death of Teoh, but as the senior most officer involved in the operation... he should be held responsible for the actions taken by him and his officers which propelled Teoh to commit suicide,” the RCI said.

“We found him to be arrogant, given to falsehoods, untruthful and uncompromising in his stand,” it said, noting that Hishammuddin had persistently denied being part of the operation. The panel said they only learnt the truth when two of Hishammuddin’s men testified the former Selangor MACC deputy director was the one who issued all instructions and even directed the officers on who and how to interview witnesses.

The RCI also found three MACC officers to have breached standard operating procedures. It recommended that action be taken specifically against the three MACC officers.

I agree with DAP’s Lim Kit Siang who has likened Teoh’s suicide under duress from graftbusters to murder and said that those responsible for his death must “face the full consequences”. He had emphasized that being forced to commit suicide was not the same as suicide but was “equal to homicide”.

Certainly, Teoh’s family cannot accept the RCI verdicts. Justice is still not done until and unless Hishammuddin is held accountable and the full force of the law is brought to bear down on him. I plead for justice for Teoh; otherwise justice in Malaysia is a sham. A whitewash. A farce.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pea-brained Bureaucrats

Did you know that the human brain has an average weight of 2.7 pounds (1.2 kg), variations between 1.1 and 1.4 kg being considered normal? At least that was what I found out at webpage, accessed today. But I also discovered that there are those amongst us whose brains are even smaller than that of the smallest primate brain, i.e. that of a mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus) of Madagascar weighing just 0.004 pounds (2 g). You may wish to ask who are these Malaysians that I was referring to?

Well, these are the ones working at the Home Ministry (also known by their Malay acronym, KDN). According to the Tuesday news story in The Malaysian Insider, rabid ministry officials had blacked out parts of The Economist’s benign July 16 report on Bersih titled, “Taken to the cleaners – an overzealous government response to an opposition rally”. Among the parts blotted out are mentions of the death of one protestor, the heavy-handedness of the police and an accusation that the government had withdrawn their offer to protesters to use a stadium for the rally (p 30).

The fact that the same article is also available in its entirety online (webpage escapes these bureaucratic buffoons. So what purpose did the censorship serve? Practically nothing except that they awakened people’s interest in wanting to read what the fuss was all about. And Najib’s administration continued to receive negative publicity on top of the series of adverse reports already featured in the foreign media.

I read that Abdul Aziz Md Nor, KDN publications control secretary, had said on Tuesday evening that only the “false and misleading parts” were blacked out. He added that the decision to censor was made after consultation with police. Do you realize that stupidity has a large following in this country?

As one blogger wrote “…the small minds of policemen and censors are more concerned with looking good than with being good” (Webpage, posted July 19, 2011). Their asinine absurdity knows no bounds.

Prawn-eating Feat

Today’s lunch was a pretty decent affair at the Atrium in the Sunway Pyramid Tower Hotel. Eleven faculty members from SUBS (i.e. Sunway University Business School) were rewarded with this meal because we mercifully endured the 3-day Outcome-based Curriculum Design workshop. Colleague and friend Madeline Tan made an impression with diners when she showed off her awe-inspiring talent of snacking 46 succulent prawns in one sitting. I used the ‘snacking’ word intentionally because she confided that she could easily polish off 70 prawns. In fact, the fresh seafood section was devoid of prawns for the better part of one hour and patrons were irked by their absence. I could see that they were puzzled – the oysters and mussels kept their places but the crustaceans kept dropping out of sight.

Of course we knew better because we could see where the prawns were headed to. I whooped and I hurrahed as I marveled at Madeline’s skill to de-shell a prawn, lance it with her fork and delicately put it in her mouth for that final act of mastication – in 60 seconds or less. It was a momentous accomplishment so much so that another colleague and also friend, Dr Nagiah Ramasamy captured this remarkable feat on camera – see how happy Madeline is!

In the evening, I weaved through clogged city traffic to attend the AmBank Group Toastmasters meeting. Ahmad Fakhri had arranged for me to be the General Evaluator. And I must say I was glad to do it because this club impressed me. The members were eagerly enthusiastic and both speeches and evaluations were generally well done. For an in-house club, attendance was good – there were nineteen of us who attended and four were guests, including Gayathry Bala Krishnan, Area P5 Governor who presided over the installation of office bearers. This club deserves praise. I am happy to award an 8 out of a 10.

The Ibrahim Ali Leadership Award

I was at the AFC Toastmasters meeting yesterday – and this time, I thought I could sit back and enjoy the meeting. But as luck would have it, I was asked to be an evaluator for Lee Tong Fong who did his CC speech # 2 Organize Your Speech. This was one highly-charged and highly-energized speaker! He has a great booming voice and he delivered the speech almost flawlessly.

This is another vibrant club and with Grace Tan as the Toastmaster-of-the-Evening, you can expect an exhilarating evening of enlivened engagement. The evaluations were great by the way and overall, I would give this meeting a score of 8 out of a 10.

And another thing - this was the first time both Thiagarajah as Area Governor G4 and I as Area Governor G3 could attend a meeting together. He rushed straight from KLIA while I went immediately after my video-conferencing meeting of the External Board of Examiners with Lancaster University Management School (LUMS). Thiaga and I have promised to work together during this 2011-2012 term and as such, our joint presence yesterday was a tangible step forward.

I cannot believe it when I read that Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) had agreed to the RM5,000 award sponsored by rabble-rousing demagogue Ibrahim Ali himself for students who play a leadership role in a Malay art and culture associations or other national associations that are considered successful or effective within or outside the campus – according to The Malaysian Insider yesterday.

I am disgusted that this university could take leave of their faculties to agree to the Ibrahim Ali Leadership Award. What it shows is that the quality of this particular university has just flown out of the window because it tells me that the people who decide to accept this sponsorship have no sense and sensibility at all. Any decent university would have rejected this "sponsorship" in the first place!

But having said the above, it must be acknowledged that even a dubious award such as this has its merit. The recipient should have no problem getting a job upon graduation because UMNO will take care of him/her, employment-wise. He/she has zilch options anyway because which employers in their right mind would hire a UiTM graduate who is a recipient of this questionable award? Seriously, I do really hope that UiTM would dismiss this outrageous offer because why must the university let Ibrahim Ali syiok sendiri? He can do it elsewhere! UiTM must surely value their reputation.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Najib and the Pope

On Monday, Najib Razak went to the Vatican City to call on Pope Benedict XVI. According to the Star today, after years of pondering and dithering, Malaysia has made a firm decision to establish diplomatic relations with the Holy See. I would question Najib’s timing. It is obvious to Malaysians that he desperately wants to win electoral support from the Catholics in the country. After all, the Catholic community in Malaysia makes up the largest group of Christians in the country – about 9% of Malaysia’s 28 million people are Christian, with Catholics numbering about 850,000.

Anyway, Malaysians are not easily taken in by this false gesture of insincere hypocrisy! On the same day too, I read that a group of 365 Catholics and other Christians in Malaysia have sent a letter to the Pope expressing their disquiet over Najib’s visit. The letter highlighted concerns about the lack of democratic rights and religious freedom in Malaysia to enable the Pope to “understand more critically and comprehensively the political and social realities” lest the pontiff is “presented with a one-sided view of developments” in the country.

The signatories pointed out that there had been curbs to freedom of religion despite this fundamental human right being guaranteed in the Malaysian Constitution. They also expressed their suspicion that there could be a hidden political agenda to win electoral support among the Christians of Sabah and Sarawak especially through this visit to the Vatican.

It is also regrettable that the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Murphy Pakiam (left) chose to be a member of Najib’s delegation. It is improper for him to ally himself with Najib when the Christian issues have not been satisfactorily resolved. Verily, I am sad that this Christian is gladly going to bed with a leader who speaks with a forked tongue. Shame on you, Pakiam!

Oh yeah, Rosmah’s inflated ego must have rubbed onto Najib. If you check out the photo above, you cannot help but notice that Najib had presented a “Najib” book to the Pope. How vain! How cocky! How conceited!

A more appropriate gift to the Pope would be the Malay Bible. Especially with the KDN chop on it – it’s a real collector’s item, is it not? He will then have demonstrated to the Pope how he treats the Christians in Malaysia. Disrespectfully.

And whatever happened to malevolent Ibrahim Ali and the venomous rogues at Utusan Malaysia? Not a cursed growl, gnarl or snarl from them about this diplomatic initiative by Najib! Doesn't this prove that they are at Najib's beck and call? On this one occasion, Najib has put them on a tight leash! All I can say is that Najib is deviously manipulative.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hail the Roman Emperor

I was at Suasana Sentral to deliver a CC speech # 7: Research Your Topic titled “Look East’. It was originally scripted as a speech to inform but when I went to the lectern, this speech mutated into something that was entertaining as it was bizarre. I had talked about suicides and it led to my sharing about my own morbid fascination with death! I even won the Best Speaker ribbon for this strange speech. This KL Sentral venue is home to the Bangsar Toastmasters Club and I definitely enjoyed myself this evening. I am giving this meeting a thumbs-up and a score of 8 out of a 10.

It’s not just Malaysians who are furious with Najib Razak (left). Did you know that influential William Pesek, a senior financial correspondent with Bloomberg – whose writings are supposedly read by decision makers around the globe – have blasted Najib’s handling of the Bersih 2.0 rally. He wrote: “Public-relations experts would have told Najib to let the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections have their day in the capital. Let them wave signs and wear their yellow shirts. Instead, he tried to stop the rally, increasing its size. Then, he cracked down. Police fired tear gas and detained 1,697 people, turning the event into a top cable TV news story” (Webpage, posted July 13, 2011).

“What can we make of a leader who promised reform and moderation and now sounds like a Roman emperor?” Pesek had questioned. “Can a nation that arrests almost 1,700 people, some just for wearing yellow shirts, still be called a democracy?”

Of course not! But Najïb and his BN government are clever at camouflaging a despotic regime and making people believe it is a democracy. Thank goodness, the age of innocence has long passed.

Useful Dad

I was again invited to the Money & You Toastmasters meeting. And I was one of four speech evaluators this evening. In fact the quality of evaluations today was generally exemplary! I didn't sweat the evaluation and of course, I was voted the Best Evaluator, being that good! As for the prepared speeches, their quality was patchy. Two speakers were praiseworthy while the other two didn’t impress me at all. I squirmed in my seat when one of the speakers engaged in aimless prattle. To make matters worse, it was an advanced speech that was also poorly organized. In spite of this, it was still a fun meeting and I would give it a 7 out of a 10.

Remember my March 31, 2011 posting of a maid carrying a soldier’s backpack? Well, Singaporean soldiers continue to make the news. This time – on June 30 – a reader of the popular Singapore citizen journalism website Stomp sent a picture of a serviceman in army uniform, making an older man – apparently his father – carry his backpack. The reader (i.e. Danny) told Stomp: “At about 3 PM, June 29, 2011, as my friends and I were going to Northpoint in Yishun for lunch, I saw yet another army boy making his father carrying his bag for him”. But don’t be quick to brand the soldier a weakling because the father may have insisted. Who knows, he (the father, I mean) may have wanted to make himself useful!

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Sacrifice of A Few

By now, we must all have been aware of Dr Jeyakumar and five others who have been detained illegally. The article written by Veronica Ann Retnam and which appeared in webpage, posted July 17, 2011 is reproduced in full below because it will inform readers that Dr Jeyakumar and the rest cannot possibly be waging war against the King or posing a national security threat – as alleged by the police. Indeed, a blatant lie has robbed the PSM 6 of their freedom!

"A rocky path indeed that a group committed for a better Malaysia has chosen. That path today is suddenly being joined by ordinary Malaysians, rising to the occasion. And they come from all shades, beliefs, from all ages; for the simple reason that the truth must be told, that one must take sides with.

Our PSM 6 friends, detained without trial under the Emergency Ordinance, have stood by the people, the poor whose shoes are so worn out, whose feet are filled with sores, whose feet ache when touching the ground, whose hands are so hardened by the rough and tough work, not for eight hours but for 12 hours or more.

They have stood with those who “make do”, cooking once in two days so that the food will “multiply”, that the gas will stretch, so that their children will have some food. They have stood with those whose houses have been taken away by the banks and whose debts have sky-rocketed through no fault of theirs. And they have gone to Bank Negara to high-light the problems.

They have stood by those who put their lives on the line — the road users between Chemor and Sungei Siput (and it includes all those who have travelled on that road). They have stood by those at Kuang and fought against the stink; they have stood by scores of poor Malaysians and struggled.

Their struggle has been from department to department, handing memorandums, sitting with some level of the powers-that-be to negotiate, under the hot scorching sun, bringing awareness to Malaysians. They have not stood by idle nor in fear but by courageously working together towards a more equitable distribution of resources".

And what did they get? Detention!

"That sole socialist voice in Parliament has bravely, politely and clearly raised problems in Parliament. He has pointed out that the accidents due to speeding lorries were because the basic wage of lorry drivers is RM350, earnings being dependent upon the number of trips. He has traced the reasons for gangsterism and asked for change.

And what did he get? Short changed.

I can share experiences of simplicity, compassion and commitment that I have witnessed.

A bottle of worms — preserved in a peanut butter jar — greeted me when I entered a kindergarten class in Kg Pinang, a squatter area at Old Klang Road in the late 1970s as an undergraduate. These worms once lived in a little boy from that kampung. It was the outcome of the effort of a medical student, Kumar, said Alex Arokiam, a social worker from the kampong then. (Alex had helped “retrieve” and clean the worms). Dr Kumar had stayed with Alex in Kg Pinang for a year when he was a medical student. And that probably was my first encounter, not with Kumar directly, but with his efforts. When I eventually met him, the discussion centred around the bottle of worms and went on to why de-worming will never resolve the problem of worm infestation. We obviously knew he had gone beyond de-worming and had been working tirelessly to address, among other things, the root cause of the worm infestation.

Though the depth and scope of the work has changed, the fundamentals remain: that there must be justice. We have heard about the work against the privatisation of health care, about the minimum wage policy, about public transportation, about a safer environment, etc.

Dr Kumar’s feet have always been planted on the ground and his head on his shoulders. His mind travels miles, all for the greater good of his fellow human beings. He was one of 31 scholars who contributed to the publication on “Indian Communities in South East Asia”, a publication of the Institute of South East Asia. His article “The Indian Poor in Malaysia: Problems and Solutions” was based on his experience and understanding. In more recent times, his publications include “Speaking Truth to Power”, “Minta maaf, Saya tidak Setuju Tuan Speaker”. And what was his reward?

Knowing Dr Kumar and Mohanarani, his wife and social activist in her own right, has been a privilege. The close relationship has allowed me many insights, testimonies of simplicity, some of these beginning in Dungun and even over the seas to Kapit. Our ordinary fisher-folk friends, makciks and pakciks and the children in Kg Sg Udang/Sg Buaya are fond of this gentle doctor and his wife who have made it a point to visit them after many years. This simple couple even paid for a group of poor friends from the kampong to come for their wedding in Penang. “Macam mana boleh tangkap Dr Kumar,” said one of our friends from Dungun.

In Kapit when some of us visited Dr Kumar, we saw first hand his many interventions. We saw the slides of the peeled-off hands of workers, the legs that were squashed by falling logs. We heard of the interventions he was making to rehabilitate those who were victims of industrial accidents. And all who visited him did so by first donating blood to the blood bank!

His famous rickety and old but strong Volkswagen travelled countless miles whenever help was requested. He has come to help at formation programmes for students. And with his clarity in thinking, knowledge and experience he has made an impact on some of these students to serve in rural areas. How do we reward a man who has used whatever little free time he has to enlighten his fellow citizens to serve the poor? Slap the EO on him?

One has to go to Sg Siput to know the extent and nature of his work. Look at the crowd at the service centre. The people of Belakang Chin Choon will tell you of his effort at meeting the people to arrive at a common understanding. Ask them and they will tell you who has come to sit with them to listen to them, to their housing complaints. What threat can that be?

Ask a poor medical student and she will tell you how the Consultant Physician escorted her while she was driving her father’s 30-year-old car home after typing and sorting out her application forms for funding. It was late, he had said; I was there when he drove off after she arrived at her gate. Not that his Mazda was any younger. Such was his commitment and humility. One head of a foundation told the student not to be greedy; I was there to witness it. She was told to work and save money before continuing with medical studies. A board member of another foundation questioned her mother for having ambitions of making her daughter a doctor. And that was for someone who was in the top 5 per cent of her class. He believed in her capacity to serve society through medicine and she is on her way to doing that. It is thanks to Dr Kumar for making it possible, not through donations but by empowering her to go to the right place for funding.

One has to examine his writings. And when does he do that? Coming back late from Sg Siput or back from Parliament does not mean rest time for him. He will be pounding away at the computer; or reading. How else does he have so much of knowledge and in such a broad area? And we must remember he was a consultant physician. He would get calls from the ward in the wee hours of the morning; and off he went, only to be up early the next morning. All these I have experienced first hand having stayed at his home.

Today a taxi driver in Ipoh told me how Dr Kumar had treated his mother-in-law without any charge. If we had gone to his clinic, we would have seen many patients waiting to see him. And how many were paying patients?

The taxi driver also spoke of the work his team had been doing in Sungei Siput. Check the PSM’s website or talk to the people in the many areas. Ask the Orang Asli of Perle. And it’s not just people from Sungei Siput.

Listen to the poor of all races talking compassionately of him. I cannot forget two elderly Malay women in Karai riding old bicycles saying how they admire him for his work and were his fans. They told me that if he called for a meeting they would come as he would not just talk but also act.

Humble as he his, Kumar may not feel very comfortable about this public disclosure but it is necessary so that the general public knows who this man is and what his party stands for. His compassion and understanding encompasses a wide situation. He has compassion for children from tough backgrounds, those 18-year-olds who are expected by society to help look after their single mothers and siblings. They cannot even manage their own needs given their meager earnings, he has reasoned. And so too for pupils from poor households — he sees a need for them to have a safe place before and after school. He understands the problems of the 18-year-olds and other social problems not in isolation but in a wider context; which is why as a team builder, he has been working with his team to make Malaysia a better place.

May we please allow those who work for the good of others to continue doing that? Dr Kumar, Chon Kai, Saras, Babu, Letchu and Sugu need to work for a better Malaysia; so too the many whose energies are now directed towards justice for all who are incarcerated. Hear, all who have ears. We need them out very soon"

A decent and fair-minded government will not fear Dr Jeyakumar.