Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sorry Plight of Bank Employees

The National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) has picketed against Maybank, CIMB and Bank Muamalat since last year over the banks' alleged exploitative and discriminatory practices. NUBE general secretary J Solomon accused the three GLC banks of exploiting and discriminating against workers, including withholding performance bonuses to employees except the CEO, refusing union members extensions beyond retirement age, deducting salaries and terminating the services of employees for participating in trade union activities, and mistreating pregnant workers, among others. Its vice-president Abdul Jamil Jalaludin then warned that NUBE members would manifest their anger at the ballot box if their plight went unheeded. The BN Government obviously subscribes to Bosses 1st, not People 1st!

Since these banks ride roughshod over their workers, NUBE will be campaigning against S Subramaniam in Segamat. “We’ll be urging the Segamat electorate to reject Subramaniam, the worst ever human resource minister,” threatened Solomon.

The three-day campaign is scheduled to begin with a picket in front of Maybank branch in Segamat at 5 PM on May 01, which also happens to be Labour Day. On May 02, NUBE would be picketing in front of two banks in Segamat. At noon, they would be in front of CIMB and at 5 PM, NUBE members will be picketing in front of Maybank again. On their third day, the union would be distributing 100,000 flyers to the public that highlights Subramaniam’s alleged unjust actions against bank employees.

“We are highlighting five points against Subramaniam. In short, Subramaniam is anti-union, anti workers, anti-Malaysian, misuses the law to conspire with banks and misinterprets the law, betrays Malaysian workers,” said the unionist.

Subramaniam, who is also MIC deputy president, has been representing Segamat since 2004. On polling day – May 05, he would face former health minister and current Johor PKR chief Chua Jui Meng.

Overseas Malaysians Vote

On April 28, 2013, overseas Malaysians (except those in Singapore who will have to return to Malaysia to vote) made electoral history when they cast their votes at high commissions and embassies around the world. The exercise marks the first time Malaysians living abroad were allowed to cast their ballots in a general election and this day is special too because it coincided with the first anniversary of Bersih 3.0.

According to the Election Commission, a total of 6,298 Malaysians residing overseas have registered as postal voters. Their votes will be counted along with 2,900 absentee voters, comprising full-time Malaysian students, civil servants based abroad and their spouses. Isn’t this a wonderful turn of events? May their votes make an important difference to GE13’s outcome!

Michelle Yeoh must love it when she is used by MCA. On April 25, 2013, a full-page full-color MCA advertisement appeared in The Star carrying her endorsement of Najib Razak (p 42). Shame on you, Yeoh! When a person of your intelligence and stature cannot differentiate between what is good and bad, right and wrong – it is no wonder the country is in deep shit! You dishonor Perak and Malaysia!

And just in case, Michelle Yeoh still cannot understand how much Malaysians dislike Najib and our feelings of distress when she supports him, check this out:

Yesterday, I took shots of the up-and-coming Sunway University building. From the photos below, you can see the bustling construction activity:

Monday, April 29, 2013

Lessons from Malaysian Politics

Bridget Welsh, an Associate Professor in Political Science at Singapore Management University writing in Malaysiakini (Webpage http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/227713, published April 23, 2013) claimed that after gleaning from over 4,000 news reports since April 2009 and a study of the three budgets/supplemental budgets (2010-2013), she conservatively estimate that Najib Razak’s administration has spent a total of RM57.7 billion from after he took over as PM to just before the dissolution of the Malaysian parliament on election-related incentives.

(The primary sources of these electoral-related pledges are from national news agency Bernama).

I certainly agree with her. A defining feature of Najib’s spending spree is the use of targeting. Students of Marketing can relate to this because it is a strategy that works. And it is effective because ordinary folks are finding it hard to make ends meet – and so the freebies and handouts help in some way. With targeting, there is a clear orientation to find potential groups of voters, identify their immediate needs, and provide it. That explains why low-income earners, teachers, fishermen, civil servants and young people were the recipients. And to be sure, there are Malaysians who are grateful to Najib and they will give him their votes! Indeed, Najib has been busy as long as he locates a group with a legitimate demand, he will try to appease it. You can be anybody for that matter – he will reach out to you because as a voter, you are precious to him! Najib believes in this strategy because he assumes Malaysians can be bought, and that their main motivation is driven by money. And he is right! Some Malaysians can be bought.

This brings me to the subject of Economics. There are basically two types of tax – the kind that the masses can see, and the kind that they can’t. The inflation tax is of the second kind. “Whenever a politician promises you more free stuff than the guy he’s running against, whenever the masses think they’re getting something for nothing, whenever our government engages in deficit spending, whenever we borrow the prosperity of tomorrow to spend today, it comes back to haunt us in the form of an inflation tax, which insidiously, and invisibly confiscates our wealth” (Michael Maloney, 2008:69).

All of this is part of a ‘let's make a deal' BN electoral mantra. The modus operandi is similar to that in UMNO elections, only this time the pattern of vote buying is extended nationwide, with the use of public money to fund this exercise in extravagance.

Welsh made an interesting comment. She said that it is not just the money and materialist orientation of Najib's electoral strategy that is so apparent. There is another commercial exchange taking place – Najib is offering himself for sale.

The BN too is being described as a ‘product' that the people should repurchase. The government is hoping that the electorate is on automatic payment, and will repurchase the 55-year old incumbent coalition.

To back up the purchase is a massive amount of advertising. Traditionally, the government has used the mainstream media for its electoral messages. This time round, they have spent so far an estimated RM100 million on advertising on public websites, billboards and shows – including even Malaysiakini.

This is well beyond the saturation point. If you learn Consumer Behavior, you will note that under conditions of constant stimulation, such as this endless stream of BN advertising and promotion, our absolute threshold will undoubtedly increase (i.e. our senses tend to become increasingly dulled). So I, like everybody else, will switch off. Immediately.

Does BN think that Malaysian voters are so shallow that they will respond to this incessant deluge of political advertising that is so devoid of any intelligence?

Boardroom Tussle over Strategy

Accor SA, Europe’s largest hotel operator and owner of the Pullman, Novotel, Sofitel, Mercure and Ibis brands had sacked Chairman and CEO Denis Hennequin (left). On April 23, 2013, Accor’s Board of Directors met at Hennequin’s request with all Directors in attendance and it was unanimously decided that his position would be terminated with immediate effect – and it was all because he had disagreed with the board over strategy directions.

According to a Reuters report, there was disagreement over how quickly Hennequin was selling off assets to boost returns. Accor's top two shareholders, private equity firm Eurazeo (EURA.PA) and US investor Colony Capital, which own a combined 21.4 percent of the capital and command four board seats, want the chain to accelerate the sale of hotels it owns in favor of management contracts or franchises. Additionally, Hennequin had also resisted pressure to split its property holdings from its hotels business.

The company has plans to open 30,000 rooms a year through 2016 and by that time would operate 40 percent of its rooms under franchise agreements and 40 percent under management contracts. Accor will only own or lease 20 percent of the rooms.

Whatever the reason, a boardroom tussle over strategy that resulted in the removal of the Chairman and CEO is a very uncommon predicament.

As Don Sull, Professor of Management Practice in Strategic and International Management, the Faculty Director of Executive Education at the London Business School, and author of The Upside of Turbulence, pointed out that there are rare cases where the strategy may be putting the company at such risk that you may want to consider leaving. These are cases where there are ethical concerns or the company may fail if the strategy is pursued in its current form. If faced with a strategy that is severely flawed or that you just can't comfortably support, you may want to consider quitting (Amy Gallo’s “When you think the strategy is wrong” at blogpage http://blogs.hbr.org/hmu/2010/02/when-you-think-the-strategy-is.html, published February 04, 2010).

I am reminded that Hennequin was sacked; he didn't resign. So there's more than meets the eye on this issue. Having expressed "reservations" about the plan to speed up the implementation of the so-called strategy, he then summoned the Board. I can only deduce that he must have had grave misgivings. In any case, the information at Accor is sketchy. It is pertinent to note that his predecessor was ousted in 2010 over "strategic differences" with the board as well. I am going to keep tabs on Accor and see what happens next.

In an SPL game yesterday, three goals in 10 minutes secured a 3-1 victory for Motherwell over newly-crowned Scottish champions Celtic.

Gary Hooper opened the scoring for Celtic in the 40th minute but Henrik Ojamaa levelled five minutes later. Michael Higdon put Motherwell ahead from the penalty spot five minutes after that after Celtic defender Charlie Mulgrew was adjudged to have fouled Ojamaa just inside the box. And in the 55th minute, right-back Mikael Lustig headed Tom Hateley's cross against his own post with Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster seeing the ball come off him and into his own net.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Dubai Police Show-offs

Some of us may say that the Dubai Police are showing off. Maybe so but aren’t we all still green–eyed that they have the Ferrari FF (or Ferrari Four) and Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 among their fleet of patrol cars? These cars were acquired this month to be used as a deterrent for anyone considering breaking the speed limit, particular those owners of high-powered exotics. I also read that these cars will also be used in popular tourist areas to help promote Dubai.

Sigh! And I drive a Satria Neo.

Liverpool blasted six goals past a hapless Newcastle and the goals came from Daniel Agger (3), Jordan Henderson (17, 76), Daniel Sturridge (54, 60) and Fabio Borini (74). The Reds still sit in position No. 7 in the EPL table Isn’t this pathetic? Brendan Rodgers is a disappointment alright!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Altantuya Billboards in Kuching

Image credit: https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/04/27/who-killed-altantuya-billboards-demolished/

Bravo to DAP Bandar Kuching for coming up with the three billboards that featured Altantuya Shaariibuu. They screamed the words “Siapa bunuh dia?” (“Who Killed Her?” in English). They were erected in strategic points in the city in conjunction with BN chairperson Najib Razak’s visit to Kuching today – for the simple reason that the Altantuya murder case is still shrouded in mystery, as explained by DAP Bandar Kuching candidate Chong Chieng Jen.

The Altantuya name continues to make news due to the alleged involvement of persons close to Najib and not to mention that there is also speculation that Najib himself is involved. The latter has, of course, denied any wrongdoing.

But the BN stooge in the form of the Kuching South City council demolished the billboards last night, thus sparing Najib any embarrassment. Why are the authorities so afraid of the Altantuya name? If Najib's hands are not stained with her blood, what is he so frightened of?

Maybe DAP should print posters by the thousands instead and plaster them onto lamp posts, signboards, walls and anywhere they can get noticed. I say, it is more effective to blanket the city’s public spaces with Altantuya’s image – and see if enforcement officers can remove these bills before Najib sets his eyes on them. Malaysians have had enough of Najib!

This morning I was in Pusat Bandar Damansara to attend the HELP University Toastmasters meeting. I was an evaluator for an Ernst & Young speaker where he was supposed to use technology to enhance his speech. I didn’t think he fulfilled his speech objectives and his “lecture” was less than satisfactory. The trouble with many Toastmasters is that they seem to be in a hurry to complete their manuals. Anyway, there were other good speeches as well as evaluations. However the choice of the General Evaluator was  a poor one because sadly, she didn’t know half of what she was talking about. E.g. She said the meeting should have started punctually but she neglected to mention that she was the cause of it because she herself came late.

The meeting had many shortcomings, e.g. members leaving their seats and standing in one corner of the room. I suppose they are rather new in Toastmastering and they have had had no guidance or support. Whatever happened to their senior members? HELP Toastmasters who were present were enthusiastic and energizing but they didn’t know how to properly conduct meetings. As such the quality of today’s meeting suffers. My score for this meeting is a 2 out of a 10.

Friday, April 26, 2013

MCA Going the Way of the Dodo

The death knell for MCA has ominously sounded. MCA is going into GE13 in a very weakened state. MCA will be contesting 37 parliamentary and 90 state seats (versus 40 seats and 90 state seats in the 12th general election).
Even before a single vote has been cast, MCA has already raised the white flag on three parliamentary seats (i.e. Gelang Patah, Kuantan and Wangsu Maju). And it is not as if they lost to the opposition; they gave away the seats freely to UMNO. That’s what a lackey is supposed to do – obey the master!

Today, MCA is scrambling to win enough seats to have some measure of credibility. I won’t use the word ‘respectability” because it has lost it a long time ago. But it is increasingly difficult for MCA because 99% of the Chinese voters have turned their backs on the party. And why shouldn’t they? Who amongst the Chinese are still stupid enough to vote for MCA?

This video clip is dedicated to those who are still with the MCA:

Hopefully, MCA members will ask again and again: Why MCA? And then they will roll over and die quietly! The same way the dodos died in the treacherous mud flats a long time ago.

Image credit: http://cerebralboinkfest.blogspot.com/2010_10_10_archive.html

There is this popular belief that dodos were always too dumb to live, even 4,000 years ago. But my colleague, Sri Bala has this theory that the dodos weren’t extinct. They evolved to become MCA Chinese! Their lack of guile is so obvious – just talk to Liow Tiong Lai, Kong Cho Ha, Donald Lim, Ng Yen Yen and the others and you cannot help it but be reminded of the dodos!
GE13 is going to see the annihilation of MCA. And just when the going gets tough, MCA president Chua Soi Lek had already run away fast and furious! That’s why he is not contesting. I don’t blame him – how to challenge the might of the DAP? It’s better to flee with his tail between his legs than to suffer an inglorious defeat!

To Chua, defeat is disgrace. And just like Najib Razak, Chua too, will be destroyed by defeat. Game over, MCA!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Malaysian Women in Politics

DAP's Hannah Yeoh is standing for re-election in the Subang Jaya state seat. Check out her ceramah In Bandar Sunway’s PJS7 on April 21, 2013:

Yesterday, she was in Subang Jaya’s SS15 where she and other PR colleagues gave another ceramah to an appreciative crowd estimated to number about 3,000. I was there and I can vouch that the field that hosted the political talk was overwhelmed by the massive crowd.

Yeoh is one of DAP’s twenty-two women candidates representing 12.3 percent (from a total of 178 women aspirants standing for Parliament and state) with BN parties contributing 39.9 percent, PKR (16.9 percent), PAS (14.0 percent) and Independents (16.9 percent)  who are contesting in GE13. Altogether, a total of 579 and 1,321 candidates will battle it out for both the parliamentary and state seats and women make up only 9.4 percent! This is far below the 30% allocation for women designated in the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women which Malaysia has signed and promised to implement.

Prominent women's rights activist Marina Mahathir told Malaysiakini that the low number of women election candidates was disappointing. She said, "The trouble is, at heart, none of the political parties really believe in gender equality".

"What women bring to the table is valuable, as valuable as what men bring and maybe even more so, because what women most care about is their families and their communities, which are the centres of any society".

"You do right by families and you'll do right for the whole country," Marina stressed.

 In fact, Indonesia has recognized this and in 2008 established a quota of 30 percent for women’s participation as candidates and in the top leadership of all political parties. If our neighbor can do it, why can’t we?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Kiss of Death

Just when I thought Najib Razak is excusably stupid but has not plummeted to the depths of total idiocy – he said something on Monday that might just make me change my mind! He described warped Zulkifli Noordin as a champion of Indian issues. In fact, Najib wonderfully managed to convince himself that the Indian community in the Shah Alam parliamentary constituency have accepted the Perkasa veep as the BN candidate for GE13 and will vote for him.  Najib is still hallucinating that Zulkifli can win the seat for BN!

To prove his point, he said the action of a member of the Indian community who approached Zulkifli and kissed him on nomination day reflected the Indian community’s trust on the racist who had supposedly recanted.

I see it from another perspective. Zulkifli’s fate was sealed with a kiss! It was not a display of ‘trust’ as Najib put it, but rather, the kiss of death! UMNO will not only lose Shah Alam but Selangor as well!

Najib’s bizarre defence of the controversial candidate came even as MIC leader S Vell Paari warned last Wednesday that BN was risking the Indian vote. In fact, it has already begun. One hundred and five Shah Alam MIC members quit the party over the Zulkifli issue on Monday (The Sun, April 24, 2013, p 10). C Supayah, former vice-chairperson of the branch gave three reasons why they abandoned MIC. First, Zulkifli Noordin being picked as Shah Alam candidate. Second, they disapproved the candidacy of Nawawi Mohd Min in the Batu Tiga state seat as he had led the “cow-head protest” in 2009. Third, Ibrahim Ali in Pasir Mas.

Najib’s decision-making prowess is obviously non-existent. Of all the choices that he has made when picking candidates to represent BN, Zulkifli’s selection stands out like a sore thumb. He is not even a member of any of the parties under BN unless you include Perkasa. The point is, Najib does NOT have to include Zulkifli – he was under no obligation, no compulsion, no pressure at all. So if Zulkifli was the chosen one, it says a lot about Najib and what we can expect if BN wins GE13!

Looking at Najib’s choices, I fully agree with Zulkifli when he said “I am living proof of Najib’s transformation program.” Under the Najib regime the country has become very intolerant and some fellow citizens spew hate and promote violence. To be sure, Zulkifli is nothing more than a blue blemish. But what he represents – more so, when he is strongly supported by UMNO with its ubiquitous influence and pervasive power – can destroy Malaysia!

Psy's Follow-up

Psy's follow-up to his global hit Gangnam Style – i.e. ‘Gentleman’ – has already clocked up more than 211 million views on YouTube, and even South Korea's president Park Geun-Hye showered him with praise.

Just days after its release, the music video has become the fastest video to hit the 100 million views mark, beating the previous record set by Susan Boyle's ‘I Dreamed A Dream’.

‘Gentleman’ also smashed the record for the most views in a single day after it notched up 20 million hits in its first 24 hours.

And his signature horse-riding dance from Gangnam Style is replaced with a pelvic thrust apparently known as the arrogant dance. Sorry, I am not a fan of his and so I will not be showing the said video here.

Interestingly, KBS, a major South Korean radio and television network, has banned the rapper's new video, claiming it could provoke anti-social behaviour. In the four-minute promo, the entertainer is shown jaywalking and kicking a cone that says 'no parking'. The state broadcaster said the scenes set a bad example to younger viewers and fell short of its standards.

Yesterday, I was at the Taman Indrahana Toastmasters meeting where I delivered my CC #3 speech titled “The Frog Prince”. The particular speech was based on a MAD cartoon (see below) that I chanced upon. To cap a good evening, I was also voted Best Speaker. I would give this meeting a score of an 8 over 10.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Michelle Yeoh Disappoints

I am really unhappy that at Saturday’s pro-BN mega dinner in Westport, Port Klang, actress and ex-Bond girl, Michelle Yeoh proudly displayed her foolishness when she gestured 1Malaysia from the VVIP table together with Najib Razak and Chua Soi Lek, two discredited politicians. Then, she spoke of her support for the former: “We have a leader [Najib] here who has done so many good things and will do more. I hope from the bottom of my heart that he will remain as the prime minister and I ask all of you to give him a strong mandate.”

This woman gushed with praise for Najib as if she just crawled out of some crevice in the wall. Didn't she know about Altantuya Shaariibuu, Teoh Beng Hock, Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed, A Kugan, C Sugumaran and many others? Didn't she know that Perkasa flourished during his time as prime minister? Didn't she know that when he was in office, every day was Christmas because Santa Claus was emptying the Treasury and giving out handouts and freebies?

I thought all along she is a smart girl – obviously I have erred in my judgment of her. Michelle Yeoh, you disappoint me big time!

Listen to Dr Wan Azizah speak in Subang Jaya on April 21, 2013:

As she said, each vote counts! Remember, Malaysians, you matter! The future of the country is in our hands!

The Man Who Would be King

Sarawak chief minister Taib Mahmud believes the state belongs to him.  He is taking everything and anything he desires  in case you didn't know he has amassed a fortune of RM45 billion! and not giving a damn about the indigenuous people who lives within its borders. Maybe he also believes he controls everybody in Sarawak. So is it any surprise if his cousins, Fatimah and Norliah were covertly recorded as having said that it was easy for their company to get state and native customary lands from Taib’s government and sell them later for gargantuan profits? And to further rub it in, the sisters had described the Dayak community as having “low intelligence” and as such were “easily manipulated”. [Refer to the video clip in my blogpost dated March 20, 2013 at this link http://helpvictor.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-sarawakian-tale-of-corruption.html].

I say, enough is enough! The Dayaks have a simple choice: Either they abandon their fears and therefore vote against Taib and his government or they continue to remain meek and submit themselves to him and his pack of ravishing wolves. If they do the latter, they will find themselves as squatters in their own land. And that would be a tragedy to these people because they will be doomed to a life of impoverished existence. Already they are not seeing any meaningful development – it is a real shame because they have not benefitted from the state’s immense wealth.

Anwar Ibrahim has appealed for Malaysians to cast away their forebodings and vote for change – otherwise, all Malaysians will lose!

People of Sarawak, wake up! If you have pride and dignity, reject BN! The same goes for other Malaysians too. Ubah!

Monday, April 22, 2013

People's Power in Bangsar

A residents' initiative planting coloured flags to support PR’s Nurul Izzah Anwar is now part of the incumbent Lembah Pantai MP’s campaign to defend her seat against UMNO strongman Raja Nong Chik Zainal. Miniature blue, white, and red flags – the PKR vice-president’s party colours – as well as electoral reform group Bersih’s bright yellow were planted at Bulatan Ara Kiri, Lucky Garden in Bangsar as part of residents’ ‘Malaysian Spring’ campaign for political change over the previous weekend.

This same residents’ group had to stand up to Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) officers who had plucked the “flowers” hours later on that Sunday, citing transgression of city by-laws. They later replanted the flags, after criticizing DBKL for ignoring similar transgressions by Nong Chik’s BN campaign team.

Kindly check out the two videos taken on April 14, 2013:

Nurul Izzah said the idea to make the “Malaysian Spring” as part of her campaign came after “one of the residents called me and said, ‘We’re going to fight for this place’.”

This is further evidence that government agencies have become partisan. We may say that DBKL is just doing its job but when an instruction is wrong – it shouldn’t be obeyed in the first place. To be sure, the DBKL officers would have received their directive from BN cronies in the senior DBKL ranks or maybe even from BN Ministers themselves – but this is no excuse when the reason(s) they gave were flawed. If it is indeed an offence, then remove ALL flags, not just from the opposition.

Isn’t it time we change the government? Ini kali lah! Ubah!

Nurul Izzah's Ceramah in KL's Kerinchi

This is Nurul Izzah’s ceramah in PPR Kerinchi, Kuala Lumpur on April 18, 2013. She deserves the support of all Malaysians!

She is going to have a very tough fight on her hands. But I believe she can still pull it off to win!

Celtic retained the Scottish Premier League championship title following a comfortable 4-1 victory against Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Celtic’s goals came from Gary Hooper (61, 73), Joe Ledley (66) and Georgios Samaras (88) while Aaron Doran's reply in the 90th minute on behalf of Inverness was scant consolation.


Also on Sunday, Liverpool and Chelsea battled to a 2-2 draw. The latter made the breakthrough as Oscar scored with a near-post header from Juan Mata's corner (26) following poor marking from Liverpool centre-back Daniel Agger. The Reds equalized when Suarez dinked a lovely ball over Branislav Ivanovic after good work by Stewart Downing, and Daniel Sturridge did the rest from close in (52). No sooner had Liverpool got back on level terms than they were again behind. Suarez handled a corner and Eden Hazard stepped up to send Pepe Reina the wrong way with his spot-kick (57). Then in the 97th minute, Sturridge crossed from the right for Suarez to nip in at the near post to head home.

On Saturday, the “old boys” came together again – although this was my first function that I attended with them – these are the former students of Malacca High School (batch of 68-72/74) and Banda Hilir English School (62-67). The ‘55+3’ reunion was held at the Tiara Golf Resort in Jalan Gapam in Bukit Katil, Malacca.