Saturday, December 31, 2016

Sadness Times Two

Debbie Reynolds and daughter Carrie Fisher in 1997. Image credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS

Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on January 25, 2015 in Los Angeles, USA. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Actress Carrie Fisher, whose grit and wit made "Star Wars'" Princess Leia an iconic and beloved figure to millions of moviegoers, died Tuesday. She suffered a fatal heart attack on a flight from London bound for Los Angeles. She was 60.
One day later, her mother Debbie Reynolds too died – and son Todd Fisher told ABC News, his mother had died of “heartache”.
The 84-year-old Hollywood legend had suffered from health problems in recent years, and doctors said any number of factors could have contributed to her death – but possibly from a stroke.
Todd Fisher shared a touching tribute that imagines what mother and daughter might be up to right now.

The image, created by artist Ricky LaChance, shows the pair embracing while dressed as the characters that made them famous: Fisher as Princess Leia in Star Wars and Reynolds as Kathy Selden in Singin’ in the Rain.
They are both depicted gazing toward a light as Reynolds casts her umbrella to one side.
LaChance’s drawing recalls what Todd Fisher had said about the last hours of Reynolds’ life.
Before suffering a stroke, a grieving Reynolds was planning Carrie Fisher’s funeral with Todd Fisher, when she reportedly turned to her son and said, “I miss her so much, I want to be with Carrie”.

In the accompanying caption, Fisher wrote: “This is a beautiful love story to witness in my 58 years. I miss them both so much. Love is everlasting.”
R.I.P. Carrie Fisher; R.I.P. Debbie Reynolds!
This is my fave pic of Carrie Fisher: 


Friday, December 30, 2016

Yeo Bee Yin's Sarawak Sharing

I came across this Facebook post by DAP’s Yeo Bee Yin (left) yesterday – her Sarawak  experience during the last GE and I would like to share it with everybody:
“I was the campaign director for DUN Tasik Biru but no matter how much the team and I tried and how much risk I took upon myself, we weren't able to win the rural seat to make this the first Sarawak rural seat won by the DAP. While there's no excuse to lose, we achieved progress we never made in previous elections.
This is a constituency (that) comprises of 68% Dayak, 6% Malay Melanau and only 26% Chinese, which was the traditional support base for the DAP. Yet we were able to win 45% of the votes and (a) majority in 4 out of 20 Dayak villages! This was totally unimaginable for the DAP even until 2013.
When the result that we had lost was announced, many of us in the campaign team could not hold back our tears. We hugged each other and cried. All our hard works in the past few months especially that of the candidate Mordi Bimol for the past 5 years could not overcome money politics, cash handouts, election promises as well as fear and intimidation.
But the DAP cannot give up on Tasik Biru and our rural outreach because of this temporary setback.
I remember the lady who wore the UBAH t-shirt with pride carrying her baby and walked with torch light in the dark kampong path leading up to our ceramah venue; I remember many of the villagers despite having financial difficulties stood with us against the big money from Barisan Nasional; I remember having discussions with the single mothers who canvassed for us but were fearful that their involvement in the campaign would deprive their children of the opportunities to study and scholarships; I remember the village lady who told me determinately that her vote and dignity cannot be bought with money; I remember the faces of all of the campaign workers that were full of pride when the candidate Mordi said in his defeat speech that “we have fought the battle with dignity and principle”; I remember every face that looked to Mordi with the hope of change and for a better future. I remember all of them.
We must remember that the history is long and we must become the worst enemy for the corrupt government, an enemy that will never give up until justice prevail on our land. Ubah Sarawak! Ubah Malaysia!”

I salute her and the other dedicated cadres for their tireless efforts to change Sarawak. More importantly, I salute her for believing that even when hope like a flickering candle is about to die out – she will do everything necessary to make sure the flame is not extinguished.
Sure, DAP lost – but it is worth remembering that to fight and lose is far better than not to fight at all. This is not the time to yield. No surrender. The fight must go on. We will prevail. One day.
It is true what Simon Sinek said: “Don't quit. Never give up trying to build the world you can see, even if others can't see it. Listen to your drum and your drum only. It's the one that makes the sweetest sound”.
Fellow Malaysians, please let’s not even entertain the thought of giving up! Don’t give up! Never give up!
I was in Petaling Jaya to attend the IEM Toastmasters meeting on Thursday.
And I delivered my CC #7 speech titled “The Death Leap”. My CC round #39.
In fact, I was the sole speaker.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Rodrigo Duterte aka Judge Dredd

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte openly admitted on Tuesday that he once hurled a man suspected of rape and murder from a helicopter in mid-air.
And he reiterated that he had no qualms about doing it again.
It was not immediately clear when or where the helicopter incident Duterte spoke of took place.
But an admission is an admission.
Duterte (right) had already conceded to personally killing suspected criminals during his time as mayor of Davao City – sometimes riding a motorcycle looking for "encounters to kill".

And he made the remarks at the Wallace Business Forum in Manila on December 12, 2016.
Allegations that Duterte was himself involved in killings in Davao were previously made at a senate inquiry set up to look into extrajudicial killings during the President's drug crackdown.
Self-professed hitman Edgar Matobato told the committee he saw Duterte unload two magazines of an Uzi submachine gun into a National Bureau of Investigation official.
"He must have finished 200 bullets," Matobato had said in September.
The hitman claimed more than 1,000 people had been killed by death squads during Duterte's time as mayor.
The senate inquiry was scrapped and investigations stopped in October, after the committee's head and Duterte critic, Senator Leila De Lima, was replaced.
Duterte is the president who decides whether you are guilty or not, whether you die or live.

Duterte is judge, jury and executioner.

Duterte is the Filipino version of Judge Dredd. 

Yesterday, it was business as usual for Celtic as they secured a fourteenth consecutive Scottish Premiership win when they subdued Ross County by a 2-0 score.
Erik Sviatchenko caught out the other side's goalie with a 35-yard drive in the thirty-eighth minute and Stuart Armstrong rifled in a low shot (45+1) to give their team a well-deserved three points. 
And Celtic convincingly extended their lead over second-placed Rangers to 16 points.

On Wednesday, I was at No. 11, Jalan SS 26/6 in Taman Mayang Jaya, PJ partaking in my almost daily diet of Toastmasters. I served as the Timekeeper at the PJ Toastmasters meeting.
I know I performed the role with earnest enthusiasm.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Malaysian Students Need to be Critical

It is interesting to read an FMT article about a certain varsity professor urging students to be critical of everything they are taught and to question every exhortation and prohibition issued by university authorities.

Tajuddin Rasdi (left), who teaches architecture at UCSI University, said this was the way to acquire “real knowledge”.

“Universities are supposed to teach students to be critical and to question everything,” he said. “In discourses, you have to have people with differing views. That’s how you discover new points of view”.

Unfortunately, he said, this was not currently happening in universities in the country.

“Today, if the university is against the LGBT movement, it will hold a seminar that is anti-LGBT. How are we to see the other side of the coin then? That is not knowledge; that is conditioning”.

Tajuddin explained that “conditioning” meant that one was not encouraged to think for oneself. He was commenting on the decisions made by two universities to penalise student activists Anis Syafiqah and Asheeq Ali for their participation in the #TangkapMalaysianOfficial1 rally on August 27.

Universiti Malaya’s Anis (and two others) was suspended for six months and fined RM400 while Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Asheeq was suspended for a semester and fined RM200.

They were found guilty of acting in a manner detrimental and prejudicial to the interests and good reputation of their universities, acting in a manner detrimental to public safety and violating university regulations by organizing and participating in the rally.

According to Tajuddin, a student goes to university to discover new things. “If you are here just to get a job, to get a degree so that you can become an architect, then you are a trade student in a trade school”. Rightly so!

Tajuddin said in Malaysia conditioning would begin at the start of a child’s formal education.

“The Malaysian education system tries to standardize the student,” he said. “They tell you to wear this kind of uniform, this kind of haircut, this kind of shoes”. The idea is to mold them into docile and deferential Malaysians.

And for many Malaysian students, it is of course, so much easier to just obey and acquiesce. Thinking is hard work!

Of course, it doesn’t speak well about us as Malaysians – but how many of us really give a damn?

Liverpool moved into second place and closed the gap on EPL leaders Chelsea to six points – after coming from behind to beat Stoke 4-1 on Tuesday.

The Potters’ Jon Walters headed home in the twelfth minute to give Stoke hope but that soon died when the Reds hit back – with Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino scoring in the thirty-fourth and forty-fourth minutes respectively, and let the latter take the lead.

Another goal was added when The Potters’ Giannelli Imbula directed Divock Origi's cross into his own net in the fifty-ninth minute.

Adding gloss to the scoreline was Daniel Sturridge (70), who scored his first league goal of the season – and Liverpool's 100th under manager Jurgen Klopp.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Oil Prices Recover

It seems that oil prices are on the road to recovery.
The signs are already there for all to see.
On November 30, 2016, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC producers confounded doubters by agreeing to have their first production cut in eight years.
This move is expected to drain oil inventories by a cumulative 1.8 million barrels of oil per day, for a total global production cut of 2%.
That is tellingly significant because oil prices immediately rebounded.
WTI crude and Brent crude rallied by some 10% that day itself.

Now, WTI Crude is trading at $53.02 while Brent Crude stands at $55.16 (as at today, 09:14:42, December 27, 2016. Refer webpage
Even American shale oil companies used this as an opportunity to hedge their oil price risk between 2017 and 2019 at above $50 a barrel.  
Another way of putting it is that producers are looking to lock in future cash flows and sales prices at above $50.
This also implies that the $50 level will be a buffer for oil prices moving forward.
According to Bloomberg, a record 580,000 crude option contracts traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange that day, while the number of puts, used by producers to guarantee a minimum price, hit the highest since 2012.
Even before that – at the 23rd World Energy Congress (October 09-13) in Istanbul, Turkey, Amin Nasser, the chief executive of Saudi Arabia’s state oil producer had predicted that by 2018, oil prices will have recovered and the market conditions will be right for Saudi Aramco to consider an IPO – said to be up to 5% of Aramco.
I understand that there are huge aspirations for this IPO, as it is an important component of diversifying the kingdom away from oil revenue.
That’s not all. The oil majors have started reinvesting.
Royal Dutch Shell went on to spend $53 billion on purchasing BG Group.
Then French oil major Total SA acquired oil and gas installations in east Africa for an undisclosed amount, covering assets belonging to Gulf Africa Petroleum (GAPCO) in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
And BP Plc’s string of deals. Over the past month, BP had bought a stake in the supergiant Zohr gas field offshore Egypt and expanded their interest in Indonesia’s Tangguh natural-gas project. It has bought in to two exploration blocks in the North Sea and approved a $9 billion oil project in the Gulf of Mexico
This month itself, a near $1 billion investment in a vast natural gas field off the coast of Africa announced December 19 – the deal was with US-based Kosmos Energy Ltd. This followed a $2.2 billion all-share deal  two days earlier to take a 10% stake in a parcel of UAE oil fields.
All of the above promote confidence for the petroleum industry and this will surely boost prices. Motorists, of course, will suffer the pain of higher pump prices. Sigh.
This evening, I attended the TMIKL Toastmasters meeting at Bankers Club in the Amoda Building, Jalan Imbi, KL. I was given a speaking slot – and I presented a CC#6 Vocal Variety speech titled “Horror Movies”.

A good speech, in my opinion.

My Evaluator thought so too but it would have been even better if I had incorporated horror sound effects, e.g. creepy noises or even bloodcurdling screams.

And I also took up evaluation duty. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Coke Can Kill

This is old news but I thought I would still share it here. After all, the subject matter can be controversial.

Not everybody loves Coca-Cola – I think most people are convinced the fizzy beverage is unhealthy.

I will even admit that Coke is not for everybody! And for one person, it allegedly killed her.
In fact, a 2012 inquest found that a mother of eight Natasha Marie Harris (right) died from drinking too much Coke – at least according to the coroner.

It had been revealed that she drank up to 10 liters of Coke every day (i.e. four 2.5 liter bottles), consuming more than twice the recommended safe daily limit of caffeine and almost one kilogram of sugar (i.e. more than 11 times the recommended sugar intake).

She died aged 30 – on February 25, 2010 – from a cardiac arrest. Her partner, Christopher Hodgkinson, found her seated on the toilet, slumped against the wall and gasping for air at their home in Invercargill on New Zealand's south island.

Coca-Cola argued that the huge quantities of Coke drunk daily by Harris could not be proven to have contributed to her death.

But coroner David Crerar said Harris would not have died if it wasn't for her dependence on Coke.

"I find that, when all of the available evidence is considered, were it not for the consumption of very large quantities of Coke by Natasha Harris, it is unlikely that she would have died when she died and how she died'', reported the Bussleton-Dunsborough Mail.

Natasha Harris was said to go 'crazy' if she ran out of Coke which she guzzled by the bottle.

Hodgkinson added that she had been unwell leading up to her death and had no energy, but the idea Coca-Cola caused the problem had never crossed their minds.

I thought the coroner took the easy way out when he put the blame squarely on Coke. It is likely Harris suffered from a myriad of medical conditions.

I don’t deny that the vast volumes of Coke she drank may have been a contributing factor to her death – but in my opinion, the cause of death was inconclusive. 

Coke is cool. Just never go to excess. Everything in moderation.

Out of the blue, on Friday, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) came out with the announcement that two popular chocolate brands did not have the Malaysian Halal Certification and also did not obtain halal certification from any halal certification bodies overseas recognized by the department.

The manufacturer of Daim and Toblerone chocolates, Mondelez International responded that ingredients used to produce the two chocolates are suitable and safe to be consumed by Muslims.
The company in a statement said even though the products were made in countries, which did not need halal certification, they met the world consumer food standards.

JAKIM have too much time on their hands, that's why! The idiots should know that just because there is no halal certification, it does not mean the chocs are haram.

Coke Goes Ginger

Handout via AFP
After launching in Australia and New Zealand in November 2016, the new ginger-flavored Coke is set to roll out in Japan from January 2017, and could head to Europe and maybe even North America this summer.
The Coca-Cola Company has launched a new flavor of its famous soda down under, just in time for the antipodean summer.
The ginger flavor should prove particularly appealing to the Australian palette, as the spice is widely used in Asian cuisine, which is very popular in the country. Coca-Cola recommend pairing ginger Coke with salads, seafood or Asian sweet-and-sour dishes.
The flavor, which is intentionally summery, took six months to develop and perfect, and launched as a limited-edition release.
Interestingly, there is no ginger listed in the ingredients list on the Coke Ginger bottle, according to Mashable. The ginger taste instead comes from "flavor”.
Anyway, I expect it to taste something like Coke mixed with ginger beer. But of course!
The beverage has seen many innovations – it is a clever move to refresh its product range as much as it is a necessary measure to put the fizz back in flagging sales.
And Coca-Cola Ginger is the first new “flavor” in more than a decade since the launch of Vanilla Coke.
I can’t wait for it to reach Malaysian shores.

It'll be great to have a try though. I won't get that chance unless somebody is returning from either Australia or NZ anytime soon with a sample for me.
On Saturday, Celtic made light of playing with ten men for most of the second half to earn their thirteenth Scottish Premiership win in a row – when they beat Hamilton Academical 3-0.
Leigh Griffiths raced onto a Callum McGregor pass to shoot into the net (41), Stuart Armstrong scored with a thunderous strike (54), and Moussa Dembele side-footed fellow substitute James Forrest's cutback from the left beyond the Accies’ goalie’s reach (84) – to give victory to Celtic.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Peranakan Christmas

Have a listen to an original Peranakan Christmas song – performed by Peranakan Sayang/written and arranged by Alvin Oon.

And here is the fun Peranakan version of the popular Christmas classic:

And from The One Academy:

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Merry Christmas

Image credit:

Wishing everybody, whether near or far, a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year 2017!

I read about this bridge. And, I would love to drive on it!

A triple-loop spiral bridge in Chongqing, China has left many netizens in awe, with its tight turns.

The bridge, called the Rongqiao Overpass, has become a landmark for the city, but it's also raised debate among the locals. Some drivers in the city said they were thrilled when driving through the sharp bends, while others disagreed, saying driving on the spiral bridge is just like riding a roller coaster and they are not at all fond of the feeling.

I know, for sure, I would succumb to ecstasy!

Gila Gula Melaka Brown Ale

Craft beers are becoming increasingly popular.
I’ve heard beers brewed with watermelon, pumpkin, jasmine, and even a smoked beer that smells and tastes like bacon.

But now, we have a beer that has a distinctly Malaysian flavor.
Introducing the Gila Gula Melaka Beer, a brown ale brewed with gula melaka (palm sugar), which is available on tap in limited quantities from December 22 to 25 at Taps Beer Bar outlets in Changkat Bukit Bintang and Mont’ Kiara in Kuala Lumpur.
I read that  back in September, two Malaysians, Taps co-founder Mili Lim (right) and Toga Mamora, went to Tokyo, Japan to brew a beer that would have the sweet goodness of gula melaka, under the watchful eye of Taisuke Kourai from the Hitachino Brewing Lab.
“We wanted to brew something with a Malaysian flavor, and being Peranakan, gula melaka seemed like the ideal ingredient to use”, said Lim.
“We brought our own gula melaka to Tokyo because palm sugar isn’t easy to find in Japan”.
The Gila Gula Melaka beer contains 6% ABV, and was brewed using four types of malt (including chocolate malt), and three types of hops (Columbus, Saaz, and Kent). The gula melaka was added during the brewing process as an adjunct to give the beer a local twist.
So yesterday, I purposely went to the Taps Beer Bar outlet in Jalan Nagasari, KL and tried it out! 

I love the beer!


Friday, December 23, 2016

A Surgery in London

Malaysian squash player Low Wee Wern’s surgery went well yesterday.

Wee Wern Low's post-surgery photo on her Facebook page

However, this is a 2-stage operation, which means, she will need to go under the knife again in about 3 months’ time. 

I wish her a speedy recovery!

Also, yesterday, I was at Metro Genting Klang in Jalan Genting Klang, KL – after accepting an invitation to attend the One World Toastmasters meeting. I was the General Evaluator.

Amongst the guests was a ten-year-old girl showing immense courage as she went up to the front and delivered an impromptu speech. She spoke to us about what she wanted for Christmas.

Zyen Kee is affectionate as she is adorable. And her speech was amazingly awesome – even if it was just under one minute!

Altogether, there were seventeen of us and that already ensured a good meeting.

And as the year is drawing to a close, this is an important reminder:

The clock is ticking away.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Najib Razak Seeks to Intervene in Ambank Lawsuit

PM Najib Razak (right) has applied to intervene in a lawsuit filed by former minister Zaid Ibrahim against AmBank Islamic Berhad.
The latter had filed the ex-parte lawsuit to compel the said bank to disclose details pertaining to a RM2.6 billion fund believed to have been deposited into the former’s accounts.
The matter was disclosed by lawyer Nizam Bashir, who appeared on behalf of Americk Sidhu, the lead counsel for Zaid, to reporters after the case came up for case management before High Court senior assistant registrar Engku Nurul Ain Engku Muda today.
The proceeding, held in chambers, was also attended by lawyers Nik Alia Nik Hanafi, representing Najib, and Grace Yeo, for Ambank.
Nizam said the court set January 04, 2017 for case management to obtain updates on Najib's application.
According to Nik Alia, the application was filed on December 14. In the originating summons filed on October 21, 2016, Zaid, among others, is seeking a court order to allow him, or his lawyer, to obtain copies of the bank statements of the five accounts allegedly belonging to Najib.
Why are you so afraid, Najib? What are you afraid of?


This afternoon, I was at Number 18, Jalan Tun Perak in KL to attend the OCBC Toastmasters meeting. I took up the role of a Grammarian and I also presented my CC speech #5 titled “Pain Lover” – for which I was voted Best Speaker.
A good meeting as I had anticipated.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Emoticons on a Test Paper

The exam paper which had emoticons that is designed by a biology teacher in Chengdu, China. Image credit:

Emoticons are a popular form of expression widely used these days.
In China's Sichuan Province, a high school teacher has creatively put them to use in school tests, reports
Zheng Jian, a 34-year-old biology teacher in Chengdu No. 20 Middle School, created a cartoon figure named "Xiao Wang" – a single college boy with funny facial expressions. The teacher then designed questions using Xiao Wang emoticons and printed them on the test paper.
The idea has been widely welcomed by the students. Some even posted photos of the exam paper online.
"I always feel nervous about pop quizzes. But the emoticons on this test paper look very funny, which make me relax," said one of Zheng's students.
According to the teacher, it took him a whole day to design and prepare a test paper with cartoon pictures. However, he hopes it can help relieve tension and stress among his students.
“Students in senior grades in high school are facing higher pressure and intensive learning tasks, which have worn them out. I hope my little idea can make them relax, and help deepen their knowledge of biology".
The teacher said he is planning to design more emoticons for his students in the future tests.
Thumbs-up for creativity!

Celtic moved 14 points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership, with a1-0 victory over Partick Thistle. Scott Sinclair's sixteenth-minute strike was enough to secure a twelfth straight league win. Plus Celtic have another game in hand to come.
I was at two Toastmasters meetings today.
First, I was at the JCorp Toastmasters meeting where I was an evaluator for an Ice Breaker.
Second, I was at the ITC Bintang Toastmasters meeting where I delivered CC speech #3 titled "Don't Kill the Bug". 
This was one of those days when I felt that the said meetings were unfulfilling. I sensed the liveliness had gone into hiding.