Monday, December 31, 2012

Ear Biscuits, Anyone?

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Eleven MYAP activists on a hunger strike at Dataran Merdeka against Lynas and environmental degradation in general shaved their heads yesterday to further drive home their point. Tan Woei Tian, a co-organizer said: "It symbolises people returning to the righteous path and starting a new life in conjunction with the New Year."

Himpunan Hijau activists also organized another activity  today when they had a go at Pahang Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob's ear, after he famously declared he would cut off his ears should BN lose in Bentong in GE13 because of the Lynas plant –  read my blogpost dated December 02, 2012. 

Hitting the bustling streets of Bentong this morning, activists distributed ear-shaped biscuits labelled 'Biskut Telinga Cap Adnan' (Adnan's brand ear biscuits) to the locals.

"We want to create awareness here so the local people will help to really make Adnan cut off his own ears (by causing his electoral defeat)," said Himpunan Hijau activist Chen Sit Yong who helped with the distribution.

With Brendan Rodgers laid low because of a virus – Sorry, but I was happy because if he was at the match, he would have been a distraction! I know Liverpool would easily win this EPL game against bottom-placed Queens Park Rangers. And they did not disappoint for they came away with a convincing 3-0 win.

The drubbing started with Luis Suarez, who turned defender Clint Hill on the edge of the box before sending a low drive into the bottom corner after 10 minutes. Then, six minutes later, Suarez followed up his own cross to pounce on a loose ball and stroke home from close range. Daniel Agger capped the rout with a near-post header from Steven Gerrard’s cross in the twenty-seventh minute.

LV Goes Spotty

I have been marking MKT2024/BMB2206 Marketing Management exam scripts and l must admit to feeling disappointed with the quality of my students’ answers. They are often peppered with sweeping statements, ambigious assertions and generic gnomes that do not help me to award marks. And as a result, they will surely miss out getting good grades. Also, in spite of me telling my students the importance of wider reading – most of them still shy away from accessing and reading relevant material that can enhance their answers.

For example, this semester’s case study was on Louis Vuitton. There is lots of literature that students could avail themselves yet they were contented to produce answers that were mediocre, unremarkable and third-rate. I refer to LV simply because if they had searched hard enough, they would have learned about the Louis Vuitton collaboration with Yayoi Kusama (a Japanese artist often dubbed “the princess of polka dots”) which, apparently, was its most successful art union ever and which produced a limited edition collection of LV products (i.e. “Infinitely Kusama”) that included leather goods, ready-to-wear, accessories (e.g. scarves), shoes, sunglasses, watches and jewelry was reportedly well-received.

Additionally, the Kusama collection is not only available in all of Vuitton’s 463 boutiques, but LV even opened up seven Kusama-only pop-up stores for a period of four to eight weeks in different places: New York City (in their SoHo boutique), two department store locations in Europe: one inside the Printemps flagship in Paris and another one, measuring 1,375 square feet, in Selfridge’s in London, as well as four in Asia, i.e. one location each in Singapore (i.e. Ngee Ann City) and Hong Kong (i.e. Pacific Place) and two in Tokyo (i.e. Shinjuku branch of Isetan and Dover Street Market in Ginza).

Pop-up stores are devised to woo and seduce customers, a global audience that constantly craves new, unexpected and imaginative experiences. And big industry players like LV are embracing it wholeheartedly – the Kusama collaboration enables LV fans to immerse themselves in Yayoi Kusama’s unique dot-infused universe.

Printemps Haussmann, Women's Store, Lower Ground Floor. From August, 23rd to October, 20th, 2012. Image credit:

Selfridges. Image credit:

According to UK’s The Telegraph on September 07, 2012, to celebrate the repeated sell-outs, Selfridges had even winched a giant Yayoi into place above its front doors on London’s Oxford Street, just in case customers missed the Kusama-Vuitton products in its 24 windows!

Kusama sculptures in the windows of Selfridges. Image credit:

Louis Vuitton-Yayoi Kusama Concept Store at the Takashimaya Shopping Center, 02-12G Ngee Ann City, 391 Orchard Road, Singapore. Image credit:

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And talking about collaborations – sure, LV has had a history of collaborating with artists (e.g. Stephen Sprouse, Takashi Murakami and Richard Prince) to create displays and products, this is the first time it has opened a concept store dedicated to such a project.

If students have read about the above, they could have incorporated it in their answers – especially relevant for Section A, Question 2 – and earned good marks. I am ranting only because I realized it is not difficult to do well in my Marketing paper but very few students are up to the challenge.

LV’s experience with the pop-up store phenomenon is not new. In 2009, LV teamed up with Japanese retail brand Seibu, in opening a temporary outlet in Seibu’s gigantic Ikebukuro department store in Tokyo – The Louis Vuitton Underground, sporting a raw and industrial look and is completely different in terms of interior than other Vuitton spaces:


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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hunger Strike @ Dataran Merdeka

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Anti-Lynas activists protesting at Dataran Merdeka slept under the stars to avoid being booked under City Hall by-laws. Moree Ngai, an organizing member of Malaysian Youth Against Public Hazards (MYAP) said that she and her 23 colleagues began their 100-hour hunger strike at the iconic square without protection from the elements from Thursday. The purpose is to pressure the authorities to withdraw the temporary operating licence issued to Lynas for its rare earth plant in Gebeng. MYAP is also demanding the public release of a detailed report on the environment impact assessment done on the plant.

Yesterday I attended my 200th Toastmasters meeting for 2012! And at the MIMKL meeting, I completed my CC speech # 10 titled “Be Angry” – which was my seventh round of the Competent Communication manual. I even won two ribbons, one for Best Table Topics Speaker and the other Best Project Speaker. It was a smallish meeting because there were only eighteen of us. Still, I would give this meeting a score of an 8 out of a 10.

Maybe in 2013, I should do my CC manual again – my eighth, ninth and tenth rounds?! And I should endeavor to complete the ten speeches in the CC manual in one hundred days or less. In my previous seven attempts, I took between 217 and 422 days. I just love the challenge – merely thinking about doing a speech gives me an adrenalin rush!.

Heidi Klum's Haunted Holiday Party

I am sorry! I very nearly missed this event. Heidi Klum sported a bedazzled face for her Cleopatra costume at her 2012 Haunted Holiday Party held at New York City’s Finale on December 01, 2012. She had postponed her annual Halloween party due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in the Big Apple and so, she decided to make the holiday party a fundraiser for the American Red Cross instead! Check out the photos below:

Photos: Getty Images
In the SPL game between Celtic and Hibernian, the latter edged the former 1-0. This is the first home win for Hibs over the Glasgow side in four years and it was delivered by a delightful strike from Leigh Griffiths in the ninth minute. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Save FELDA Rally

Photos by Choo Choy May

The FGVH shares have experienced a general downward trend and continued to hover near record lows. I believe it is only a matter of time before they drop below their initial public offering price (IPO) of RM4.55.

Meanwhile, some FELDA settlers will not accept doing nothing. So yesterday, over a thousand of them gathered at the national capital where they marched to the FELDA headquarters to protest against Isa Samad, urging him to step down as the FELDA chairperson.

The National Association of Felda Settlers’ Children (ANAK) provided the leadership for this “Save Felda” rally and demonstrators chanted “Selamatkan FELDA” (Save FELDA) and “Undur Isa Samad” (Isa Samad back down”) as they carried an effigy with a photo of Isa on it.

ANAK made four demands and there were to ask Isa to step down; cease political interference in FELDA; halt the lleged sale of palm oil to an Israeli company; and to seek the return of FELDA land to the settlers, citing the precarious position of the 360,000 hectares of land due to the dismal performance of FGVH shares.

If you are not a Malaysian – you wouldn’t really know of Isa Samad. Prime Minister Najib Razak appointed this tainted politician as the chairperson of FELDA, knowing fully well that he doesn’t deserve the position because he was found guilty of corruption. Unless Najib is trying to tell us that the pool of candidates is more like a puddle because the others are even more corrupted than Isa!

Anyway, the authorities did not sit still and they similarly organized an anti-ANAK protest comprising an estimated few hundred people. They even had banners such as “Persatuan ANAK pengkhianat” (ANAK group (are) traitors”). This group was led by Wan Zawawi Wan Zain, who showed his loyalty to BN as there were banners with the words “55 tahun FELDA aman tanpa Pembangkang” (55 years FELDA peaceful without the Opposition) and not forgeting the ubiquitous “I love PM” signs. I think the latter was meant to subtly tell the public that they were paid to be there! (My interpretation of “PM” to mean “printed money”!)

By about 3:30 PM, both bands of protestors dispersed peacefully. This will be a continuing saga because more FELDA settlers will become unhappy when FGVH’s shares plunge further.

Malaysians, kindly get ready to ROFTL! Some of you may even suffer from a bout of non-stop giggling upon hearing this declaration by BN secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor. Today, he announced that BN candidates for GE13 for the 222 parliamentary and 505 state seats have undergone thorough scrutiny by the police, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and Department of Insolvency and they were all "found to be free of corruption and other crimes". In other words, BN has the monopoly on "winnable" candidates and Pakatan Rakyat is fighting a lost cause!

Photos taken yesterday at Sunway University pertaining to work in progress of the new academic building:

BN Trickery in Perak

On Wednesday, Perak Pakatan Rakyat made a claim that BN and the Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa) have been holding “training sessions” last month to guide the Orang Asli voters in Tapah, Perak to vote BN.

Participants were given two pieces of paper, which looked like mock ballot papers for the Tapah parliamentary constituency and Chenderiang state constituency, and were then “forced” to vote BN in front of a Jakoa officer and the elected representative, according to PR. They also alleged that those who voted BN on both the mock ballot papers were then bribed with 5kg of rice.

And yesterday, it was reported thatAyer Kuning assemblyperson and Tapah BN chairperson Samsudin Abu Hassanhad admitted as much to Malay daily Sinar Harian– although he tried to justify this by saying that it was done after they found a high the number of spoilt votes among Orang Asli voters in the last general election. Samsudin also admitted to giving away free rice.

In case, they didn’t know but this contravenes Section 9 of the Election Offences Act 1954 which deals with interference in the free exercise of a person’s electoral right. And printing a mock ballot paper breaches Section 3(j) of the same Act.

This willful attempt to influence and manipulate Orang Asli voters besides bribing them is both scandalous and criminal. I bet you that the Election Commission will close both eyes to this. BN is really stooping low – they are so desperate to cling on to power, particularly in Perak that this flagrant handiwork is not beneath them at all!

On Thursday, I was at the Elken Toastmasters meeting – this is my 199th regular Toastmasters meeting for 2012 and this newly-chartered club represents my 66th Toastmasters club that I have visited during the same period. I was the General Evaluator and although I complained that the meeting started ten minutes late, it was a great meeting nevertheless. Members are enthusiastic about learning but they need experienced Toastmasters to show them the ropes. I promised I will help. Still, I would rate this meeting a 7 out of a 10 overall.